How is COVID-19 transmitted? 

  • The Toronto Public Health officials advise that the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
  • Between people who are in close and prolonged contact with one another (within about 6 feet and more than 15 minutes).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

What about objects and surface contact?

The Centre for Disease Control, which is a renowned United States health protection agency also says that it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. TTC has implemented frequent cleaning and disinfecting of common contact points like door knobs, handles and railings to reduce surface contacts.

How long does COVID-19 survive on surfaces?

Public Health Agency of Canada indicates that coronaviruses generally do not survive on surfaces after being contaminated. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. Cold and flu viruses are less persistent on porous surfaces like cardboard and paper and cloth that tend to cause more rapid drying of the cell walls and collapse of the virus structure.

Is it safe to receive a package from any area where COVID-19 has been reported?

Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.

What is recommended for internal mail?

  • The risk in handling internal mail is expected to be low.
  • Employees should be hand washing and using hand sanitizer on a regular basis at work so the likelihood of transferring germs to paper should already be low.
  • If the delivery has been longer than a few days, it is unlikely that the Covid-19 virus would survive on a dry porous surface.

What are the handling precautions?

  • Wear disposable nitrile gloves when handling large amounts of external mail or objects from unknown sources.  This is most applicable for mail room attendants.  Nitrile gloves are not required for those who handle mail less, such as departmental employees organizing departmental mail and handling invoices. 
  • If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with a disinfectant wipe or spray. Ensure appropriate contact time for the disinfectant to work. 
  • Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water after opening or handling the mail.
  • Most importantly, wash your hands often and especially before eating and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.