Can Christmas Cards Spread Coronavirus (COVID-19)? How to Minimise the Risk
Since the pandemic started, the United Kingdom has recorded more than 7 million positive cases of COVID-19, and 136,000 deaths—and this pandemic is far from over. With all the lockdowns, travel restrictions and mandates to wear face masks, life has been difficult for all of us recently.
But that shouldn’t stop us from celebrating the most wonderful time of the year, especially when it comes to following our traditions of decorating our homes, preparing a feast and yes, sending out Christmas cards.
The big question is: can Christmas cards spread COVID-19? Can licking those envelopes put your recipients at risk for contracting the virus? Is it better to just skip this British tradition this year? Let’s find out what the experts say.
Can Coronavirus (COVID-19) Be Spread Through Christmas Cards?
COVID-19 is most known to be contracted from droplet exposure. This means that if you accidentally touch a contaminated surface, you’re at risk of catching the coronavirus, and potentially going on to develop COVID-19. This poses the question of whether it’s safe to send out Christmas cards these days.
But according to experts, the risk of transmitting coronavirus through Christmas cards is minimal. Dr Julian Tang, a clinical virologist and honorary associate professor at the University of Leicester, said: “People shouldn’t worry about sending Christmas cards to friends and loved ones this year and spreading more than just festive cheer—sending cards presents a low risk of infection from COVID-19.”
He also explained that the COVID-19 virus doesn’t transmit as much through Christmas cards, especially if you’re sending it by mail where cards have to go through the postal system.
But if you are worried about transmission, you can always leave the cards under UV light or just wash your hands after opening your cards.
Can Licking Envelopes Spread COVID-19?
So, what about licking the Christmas card envelope shut? Dr Chris Ohl, an infectious disease physician at Wake Forest Baptist Health, said that while no studies have been done on COVID-19 transmission through licking Christmas card envelopes, the virus is known to not live long on paper and cardboard products.
“So, for other paper products or cardboard products, viral persistence is pretty short and doesn’t last that long. The longest it can last is on other surfaces that are smooth, such as stainless steel, glass, etcetera.
And, actually, most of the information we’ve gotten in the last three to six months is (the) virus that’s on surfaces is not nearly as important for transmission as directly from person to person,” he explained.
Dr. David Hirschwerk, infectious disease specialist at Northwell Health verifies this fact further. “The principal way in which we know the virus spreads is through shared air, and even though the virus does have the potential to live on surfaces, you would be at extremely low risk of contracting it from the mail.”
He explained further that the COVID-19 virus is still most transmissible through close contact with people who are infected with it, especially those who are not wearing mask. This is why proper health protocols should still be followed if you want to protect your family from the virus.
“The virus lives within droplets. We do need to wash our hands and not touch surfaces, but the principal way the virus spreads is in close contact with other people,” he said.
So Which Surfaces Can the Coronavirus Live On?
The National Institutes of Health conducted a study of the COVID-19 virus on different surfaces. It revealed that certain strains of the virus can survive on plastic and stainless steel surfaces.
Transmission through a contaminated plastic or stainless steel surface is possible if someone touches these surfaces, then touches their eyes or face without washing their hands first.
The study also reported that while the COVID-19 virus can survive on cardboard products for up to 24 hours, it’s not capable of transmission on that surface, which means that touching contaminated paper products is not a primary source of transmission.
But if you want to be extra cautious, you can always use tape, a wet sponge or a sticker to seal your Christmas card envelopes.
How to Minimise the Risk of Spreading COVID-19 through Christmas Cards
Although several studies have revealed that there’s very low risk for getting COVID-19 from paper products such as Christmas cards, you can still practice these extra precautions to make sure that you and your family are fully protected during the holiday season:
• Prepare the cards ahead of time. Since the virus can only survive for 24 hours on cardboard and paper, prepare your Christmas cards a few days before sending them out to the mail or giving them to your recipients. You can even put them under sunlight or UV light for a few hours to make sure that there’s no risk of transmission.
• Wear gloves when picking up packages. If you’re receiving Christmas cards and other packages through mail, it’s best to wear gloves as an extra precautionary measure when collecting them. You can also put a box outside your door where all your packages can be placed and easily moved to a room in your house. And of course, wash your hands thoroughly after opening your mail.
• Leave your Christmas cards for a day. Sure, it’s very exciting to receive Christmas cards, but try not to open them immediately after receiving. Since you can’t really disinfect the cards, leaving them out for at least a day will ensure that the virus is already gone when you open them. Dr Sarah Pitt from the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences at the University of Brighton has this advice: “Stick (the letter or parcel) in a shed or cupboard, wash your hands and don’t go back and touch it for 24 hours. By that time, if there was any virus on there, it will have died.”
• Don’t touch the licked area. When it’s time to open your Christmas cards, it would be a smart idea to open them from the top or side to avoid touching the licked area of the envelope. You should also use scissors instead of opening the card with your hand to reduce the risk for transmission further. It’s also very important to disinfect your hands after opening each card or package to ensure that you won’t accidentally touch your face and contract the virus.
• Test yourself for COVID-19 regularly. Remember that you could still be a carrier of the virus (and spread it to other people) even if you have no symptoms. Keep a stash of lateral flow tests on hand, and test yourself twice a week to be on the safe side.
Of course, if you test positive for COVID-19, don’t go out to post your Christmas cards. Wait until you test negative again before leaving the house!
Should I Still Send Christmas Cards This Year?
The holiday season is the busiest time of the year, but with the pandemic, things have been different than previous years. Christmas cards have provided a lot of warmth, love and comfort throughout these tough times, which is why more people are sending them across the globe, especially with families being separated by lockdowns and travel restrictions.
By sending out Christmas cards to your family, friends and colleagues, you’ll spread holiday cheer and help the people in your life feel cared for during the festive season. Now all that’s left to do is to curate your list early and start shopping for the best Christmas cards on the market!
At Charity Christmas Cards, you can find a huge array of Christmas cards for every purpose – whether it’s a photo upload card for a family portrait, a funny cartoon design, a corporate card featuring your company name or a traditional religious illustration.
Every design includes free internal personalisation, so you can choose from any one of our pre-written Christmas greetings, or write your own from scratch. We’ll have your cards professionally printed and shipped to you complete with envelopes – and because all of our designs include a charitable donation, you’ll be donating to those in need at the same time. Why not start browsing our wonderful designs today?