The coronavirus outbreak that first appeared in Wuhan, China has sparked a global concern and has been declared as a pandemic by WHO. It has claimed lives of more than four thousand people and infected over 132,000 globally. This has led to an increase in both threat and panic among people across the world. Amidst this outbreak and the panic for prevention, there has been a rise in many confusions and misconceptions. One of the prominent confusions is that whether touching or using items made in China can spread coronavirus.

WHO has stated that coronavirus can spread through physical contact with an infected person or any surface that has the traces of the virus can spread the infection. Since then, the threat of the virus has made many people avoid consuming items made in China and purchasing things from Chineses websites.  The assumption is that packages shipped from China or infected countries might have traces of coronavirus and handling them might infect the receiver. In the past few weeks, the market for items imported from China has remained vacant. The Holi season which witnesses a huge sale of Chinese goods like colour balloons etc. also saw a dip. There is a fear that masks and gloves imported from China might infect the consumers.

Can shopping from Chinese websites or using China made items really transmit coronavirus?  To confirm and to look deeper into why women are abandoning Chinese websites for shopping, SheThePeople.TV approached few women who shop on them.

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Amena Azeez who is a frequent customer of the Chinese online fashion website Shein said, “Since the coronavirus outbreak news, I have avoided shopping from Shein. I know it sounds silly, but I freaked out when the initial news of the outbreak came out. My question is, is it safe to order from China-based websites?”

Despite the fear, the online market surges

Similar confusion has been haunting many people. Since the outbreak of the virus, China had locked down the country to avoid its spread beyond its frontiers. However, the online sales of items manufactured in China continued. In fact, most of the masks, gloves that find their way to Indian markets are manufactured and delivered from China. Besides, as most factories, firms and shops have shut and work from home is being preferred, there is a surge in the online shopping of groceries and food items. Due to the increased health concerns, the sales of sanitizers, masks and other items have increased to the limit that they have gone out of stock. Amidst this surge, there is still this fear of handling the items made in China and getting infected by it.

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Sunayana Roy, a customer of Ali Express Packages, who is already expecting a package delivery said, “I don’t think viruses survive a month-long journey of its delivery. And in any case, I am ordering craft supplies but not food items.”

Does 2019-nCoV transmit through packages?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 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.” It further stated that there is no evidence of the transmission of COVID-19 through imported goods.

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Moreover, WHO also underlined the fact that COVID-19 has low survivability on the surfaces or objects. They are destroyed by exposure to UV rays and heat and thus packages imported from China cannot transmit the novel coronavirus. Furthermore, the said websites have been taking various preventive measures for the safety of the delivery persons and the consumers of their products. According to a report by CNBC, a website has ensured that the driver who delivers the package should use tissues whenever he coughs or sneezes and stays at home if there are symptoms of cold and virus.

Picture Credits: Softfeed.in

Rudrani Kumari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV.  

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