Advice issued about risk of Covid from Christmas cards and gifts

Advice has been given to those concerned about the risk of coronavirus through Christmas cards and presents.

It’s the time of year when we all start collecting the envelopes and parcels – if we haven’t already.

But with the pandemic, many today look at the world a little differently.

People are encouraged to clean surfaces regularly touched by others – but it is not always clear which surfaces this refers to.

So next to the risk of cards comes the other question: should we erase them or treat them in a certain way?

The answer varies depending on who you are talking to.

Dr. Julian Tang, honorary associate professor at the University of Leicester, says the risk of Covid-19 spreading by sending Christmas cards to friends and loved ones is “low” because transmission of the virus through such means is poor.

But Dr Tang said people who are concerned should wash their hands after opening the tickets and avoid touching their mouth, eyes or nose to further reduce the risk of infection.

He said, “People don’t have to worry about sending Christmas cards to friends and loved ones this year, and about spreading more than just festive cheer – sending cards presents a low risk of infection from Covid-19.

“Epidemiologically, we know that this virus doesn’t transmit much through surfaces, so the risk of infection remains minimal – especially considering the journey the card has to travel through the postal system.

“The successful transmission and infection of SARS-CoV-2 through this route is generally bad, but if people are concerned, just wash your hands after opening cards before touching your eyes, nose or mouth.”

However, advice from others goes further.

Professor Ashley Woodcock, respiratory medicine specialist who is also the Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at the University of Manchester, told the Express and Star that people can wear gloves when opening cards – and disinfect gifts.

He said, “If I were an old person, I would handle Christmas cards with gloves and put them on a radiator for a few minutes.”

He added, “(For receiving gifts), I think people could have a bucket of detergent and a pair of marigold gloves.

“They have to accept the marigolds package and put it in a room or on a table and wipe it with a detergent soaked cloth, let it sit for 30 minutes, and then it’s very safe.”

Dr. Lena Ciric also said people should send cards and presents early so those who receive them can leave them for a few days, eliminating any small risk of transmission.