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Can COVID-19 linger on Christmas present surfaces?

Updated: Dec. 14, 2020 at 4:47 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Wrapping gifts is a quintessential holiday activity, but with COVID-19 able to linger on surfaces, does that mean presents could be a cause for spread?

“The short answer is yes,” Dr. Anna Kathryn Burch of Prisma Health said in an interview.

“We know from studies that COVID-19 remains infectious on different surfaces...and so there’s different studies finding it to be a matter of hours, and others saying it could a day or so. Either way, I don’t think that it really matters.”

And why doesn’t it matter? Dr. Burch said that most people are wrapping gifts well before they are opened by another person - usually a week to 24 hours before - so the virus wouldn’t be viable by then. Dr. Burch also said there is no need to wipe down gifts or quarantine the presents for a certain amount of time before opening them.

For those who are procrastinators and may wait until days or hours before, the good news is there’s a surefire way to make sure the virus doesn’t spread.

“The good news is we know that hand washing for 20 seconds and hand sanitizer kills COVID-19, so as long as you are opening gifts and washing your hands, you are killing the virus,” Dr. Burch said.

The same goes for mail and packages you’re receiving through postal services.

Dr. Burch says that you get mail and packages every day and, “there’s no need to wipe them down. The same principle applies to gifts, follow the good hygiene rules we all know...lathering for 20 seconds and using hand sanitizer.”

If you’re especially concerned about those who are at risk, consider creative gift-giving solutions like exchanging gifts outside or dropping presents off at one another’s doorsteps.

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