Coronavirus on packages? Springfield doctor weighs in

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- It's something most of us do: order packages online. Often times, the content comes here from overseas, even commonly from places where there have been outbreaks of the Coronavirus.

FILE - Amazon Prime package, Photo date: 2018 / Source: Amazon

Many viewers have asked us are those packages safe to handle-- with the Coronavirus outbreak elsewhere?

Local doctors say, fear not.

"This is a newer Coronavirus so we don't know exactly how it will behave, but compared to other types of Coronavirus-- typically it will last about nine days on a surface. It's passed primarily via respiratory droplet, but with the length of time it takes something to come here from China, it shouldn't be an issue," said Dr. Luke Van Kirk, D.O., with Command Family Medicine.

When you walk into almost any retail store, you will likely find items from overseas. At 'Good and Perfect Gifts' on National and Republic, you'll find home grown goods, as well as items from China, Italy, and elsewhere around the world.

"We do have products from Italy, we have Italian leather goods, we have Italian clothes, but we've had no problems, and I've heard nothing," said owner Jera Lincoln. Everything she has ordered has arrived, so far.

"I've heard of jewelry, I've heard of clothing, I've heard of gift ware just not any brand that I have has been disrupted."

Other stores are not so fortunate. Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control said Americans should be ready for "significant disruptions."

It's making many nervous about touching things that came from China.

"Cases in Italy... one of the deaths that they had was in a lady who had cancer and it was because of her cancer treatment. So the majority of people who are healthy, aren't going to be at risk really," said Dr. Van Kirk.

The quickest Lincoln has ever gotten an item from overseas is two weeks, but it's typically much longer-- closer to six. That is long past the time the virus can live without a 'host.'

Doctors say worst case scenario, the U.S. sees an outbreak, but take heart most people can fight it just like we fight other viruses.

"To protect yourself, if you smoke you need to quit smoking. If you are not getting good quality sleep, that is a big key factor in your immune system. So just taking care of yourself is going to be the best defense.
You are just going to get sick and not feel very well, like what other viruses can cause, but it wont cause anything serious for most people."