CHRISTMAS is just around the corner and experts have claimed that gift givers need to assess how they will Covid-proof their presents this year.
Disinfecting parcels and sending cards early are some of the suggestions experts have recommended for those who want to take extra precautions in the build up to the festive season.
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Research by Australia's national science agency CSIRO has shown that the coronavirus has a short survival rate on surfaces such as paper, but that it can live for up to four weeks on mobile phone screens or bank notes.
Laboratory experiments also suggested that the virus can live up to 24 hours on packaging materials such as cardboard – meaning your gifts could be harbouring the virus.
One expert, whose work focuses on “where microbes lurk” said people should send gifts earlier this Christmas.
Dr Lena Ciric, who specialises in molecular biology said this would enable parcels to efficiently be “quarantined” in time for the big day.
She said: "If grandmas are worried, they can always wipe things down and then it should be totally fine.”
Dr Ciric, who is an environmental engineering lecturer at UCL, said coronavirus thrives in "cold and dry" conditions.
If I were an old person I would be handling Christmas cards with gloves and putting them on a radiator for a few minutes
These could be places like large warehouses where items are stored and in the back of a truck.
She said the transit time would make a “big difference” to how long the virus can survive for.
She said: "The likelihood that a gift or card sent in the post by an infected person would have enough virus on it to cause an infection is really low.
"I think chances are there's not going to be enough stuff on the gift at the time of contamination, let alone at the time it gets there."
Respiratory medicine specialist Professor Ashley Woodcock, who is also the University of Manchester's Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs said people should think about disinfecting parcels and packages they received before opening them.
He said: "If granny gets lots of Christmas cards, what is she going to do?
"If I were an old person I would be handling Christmas cards with gloves and putting them on a radiator for a few minutes."
He added: "(For receiving gifts), I think people could have a bucket with detergent in and a pair of Marigold gloves.
"They should accept the parcel wearing Marigolds and put it in an area or on a table, and wipe it down with a cloth soaked in detergent, leave it for 30 minutes, and then it's very safe."
The advice comes after a OnePoll survey found that people are already planning Christmas earlier this year.
Commissioned by retailer John Lewis, the survey found that 70 per cent of people planned to post more or the same amount of Christmas cards this year than last – a trend supported by increased card sales.
More than 60 per cent of shoppers also plan to buy presents before December, according to the poll of 2,000 people which was conducted in October.
Experts had previously advised people to clean their homes before and after Christmas visitors in order to stop the spread of the virus.
Speaking to The Sun, Robin Rough, managing director of Hydrachem, which manufactures Cert, a household cleaner which the company claims can kill Covid-19 recommended cleaning your home before and after guests visit.
"It's vital we keep everyone safe during this special time. Covd-19 can remain on surfaces for up to 28 days, so it's crucial we clean the surfaces in our home regularly."
Robin Rough adds: "Family and loved ones may well be coming to your home, which is wonderful, but each new visitor brings further risk, as Covid-19 can be carried on such things as banknotes, mobile phone screens and stainless steel.
"We recommend you give your home a good clean before your guests arrive, and then again after they've all gone."
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