How to make sure your mail is safe in the time of coronavirus

Photo: AAP

Around the country, non-essential services have shut down to stop the deadly coronavirus from spreading.

Only a handful remain open, including Australia Post.

And it has raised a lot of questions.

The third most ‘Can I catch coronavirus from …’ styled question Australians typed into Google last week ended in ‘mail’.

Australia Post has taken measures to protect its workforce and its customers during the pandemic.

You can still go to a post office, but it might just look a little different.

Bright tape has been placed on the floor of post offices around the country, guiding customers to stand 1.5 metres apart.

In some stores, the staff will be wearing gloves and masks.

“In our post offices, we are reminding people to maintain social distancing through signage,” a spokesman told The New Daily. 

The floor is taped and some staff are wearing gloves. Photo: TND

“If needing to pay for anything, our preferred payment method is card.

“Obviously though, as we act as a bank for some customers where they do need to come in, they can still complete their banking.

“Masks and gloves are a personal decision and our people can wear them should they choose.”

Several stores, including the Heathcote Post Office in Victoria, have taken safety precautions further and asked customers to not lean on counters or come in large groups. 

“To further reduce risk of transmission we ask that you please modify your behaviours to the benefit of the community by not leaning across counters,” management said in a recent announcement.

“Couples or families should pick one person only to enter the shop while the rest wait elsewhere.

“(And) ensure you have everything you need, are prepared before you come in, and complete your tasks quickly.

Tape has also been placed inside in stores. Photo: Australia Post

“This may include completing multiple tasks in one visit, rather than over the course of several visits.”

Posties, delivery drivers and post offices will continue to operate across the nation.

To date, there have been no confirmed cases in the Australian workforce of more than 80,000 people.

To make it safer for customers, self-service terminals at post offices are temporarily closed to ensure customers and staff keep a safe distance from one another.

And all parcels be it at a post office or at a residence – no longer require a signature for delivery or collection. 

So, can you catch it from the mail?

The jury is still out on how long the virus survives on surfaces, but the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the American Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have said the likelihood of anyone become infected by their mail is low. 

WHO has stated that: “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”.

Similarly, the CDC has said: “In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures”.

A spokesperson for the Australian Department of Health said the best defence against the virus on mail and other surfaces is washing your hands.

“People can minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19 from any surface by following good hand hygiene practices and cleaning items where possible,” the spokesperson said.

“Hand hygiene means washing hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or rubbing your hands with alcohol-based hand rub for about a minute, immediately after coming into contact with frequently touched surfaces and objects.”

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