It looks like staying it home and shopping online isn't the safest thing to do anymore. On Monday, May 4, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the Chief Medical Officer of Health in Alberta, confirmed that there is now a COVID-19 outbreak at Puralator in Calgary. As a result, the top doctor has some advice about how we should deal with receiving packages during the pandemic.
A member of the media called into the province's daily press conference on Monday and asked if there was anything that people receiving packages from Amazon or Purolator should do since both the companies have confirmed cases in their warehouses.
Both Amazon and Purolator facilities near Calgary are facing outbreaks, as mentioned in the press conference.
In an email sent to Narcity, Tom McMillan, a spokesperson for Alberta Health, told us that the Purolator facility has recorded 30 cases as of Tuesday morning, May 5.
Narcity has reached out to Purolator for comment and we will update this article when we receive a response.
In response to the question about safely getting packages, Dr. Hinshaw shared some knowledge about whether we should be worried and what to do.
"With respect to receiving packages, we do know that it's possible for the virus to survive on some surfaces," the top doctor said.
She added COVID-19 can last on cardboard surfaces for as long as 24 hours.
But this estimate has only been found to be true in controlled, lab settings.
In reality, that number can change as the package may have spent a considerable amount of time outdoors, leading to changes in how long the virus may be able to last on its surface.
If something was outdoors, that would "inactivate the virus sooner," according to Dr. Hinshaw.
The safest thing to do when receiving packages, in that case, is to open the package, dispose of the packaging, "whether that's the outer wrappings, the cardboard, or the plastic packaging", she said, and then immediately wash your hands before touching whatever's inside the package.
She said this would be the most effective way to ensure your safety.
"There is little evidence to suggest that there's been transfer of the virus over long distances or time from a package," she stated.
Most of the environmental contamination and transfer has occurred when people share the same space that has "high-touch surfaces" which people have been using.
For example, elevator buttons, doorknobs, and handrails.
However, if you do want to be cautious, you should just dispose of the wrappings, wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds, and then open up the contents, as Dr. Hinshaw said again.