- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Scientists researching the novel coronavirus have failed so far to find any evidence to indicate it can be transmitted by newsprint, the head of a global media group noted Monday.

Earl J. Wilkinson, the executive director and CEO of the International News Media Association, cited the findings of national and global health experts to conclude that newsprint is a “safe surface” with regards to the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.

“All scientific evidence suggests porous paper surfaces, to which we include newsprint, are safe from the coronavirus,” Mr. Wilkinson wrote on the INMA’s website.

“The evidence is overwhelming: no transmissions, porous surfaces are safe and newsprint is safest because of the sterility of ink and paper processes. Beyond this, publishers are taking delivery precautions,” he wrote in a blog post.

Mr. Wilkinson, a Texas native who boasts nearly 40 years of experience in the newspaper industry, said his group has received several inquiries recently about whether the novel coronavirus could be potentially transmitted from a print publication to a person.

And while scientists continue to study the coronavirus and COVID-19, the infectious respiratory disease it causes, Mr. Wilkinson said there have been zero documented cases so far of the virus being contracted as a result of a person having touched a contaminated newspaper or other print publication.

Health experts have determined that an individual can contract COVID-19 by touching a surface containing the coronavirus and then touching their face, or by inhaling germs found on microscopic droplets expelled by an infectious person.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health reported this week that the novel coronavirus remains detectable on cardboard for up to 24 hours, suggesting COVID-19 could be potentially contracted by touching a contaminated package. The World Health Organization has separately assessed that individuals have a low chance of becoming diseased that way, however.

“The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, traveled and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low,” the WHO explains on its website.

“It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has stated.

Internationally, the WHO has confirmed more than 375,000 cases of COVID-19 since the disease was discovered late last year in Wuhan, China. As of Tuesday, the CDC has documented over 44,000 domestic cases of COVID-19 in the U.S.

More than 16,000 people have died from COVID-19, including over 500 in the U.S., according to the organizations.

Health experts have recommended that people wash their hands and avoid groups to help slow the spread of the disease.

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