This version updates by WHO the 27 March announcement by providing definitions of droplets by particle size and adding three relevant publications.
Modes of transmission of the COVID-19 virus
Respiratory infections can be transmitted through droplets of different sizes. When the droplet particles are >5-10 μm in diameter, it referred to as respiratory droplets, and when then are <5μm in diameter, it referred to as droplet nuclei. According to current evidence, the COVID-19 virus is primarily transmitted between people through respiratory droplets and contact routes. Droplet transmission happens when a person is in close contact (within 1 m) with someone who has respiratory symptoms (e.g., coughing or sneezing) and is therefore at risk of having his/her mucosae (mouth and nose) or conjunctiva (eyes) exposed to potentially infective respiratory droplets. Transmission may also occur through fomites in the immediate environment around the infected person. Therefore, the transfer of the COVID-19 virus can occur by direct contact with infected people and direct contact with surfaces (any packed items such as food & medicine).
Opportunity for the Packaging engineer in this outbreak
Based on the above mode of the transmission, we can assume it can also be pass through the object such as pouches, blisters, bottles. So, the transmission can only by stopping to kill the surface microbes. It is an option of such methods as radiation, heat treatment, and low-temperature storage for packed products.
Lifesaver role by Packaging Engineer
We can assume that sterilization the top packaging surface and then just keep that sterility until the time of use. While all are supporting the multitude of factors that are part of the packaging development process. Types include bags, overwraps, pouches, trays, and rigid packs & bottles, comprising a variety of materials.
The circular updated on the internet regarding the COVID – 19 viruses still alive on the surface(link below). Such as metal surfaces(Stainless Steel) up to 2-3days, the paper and paper products can up to 24hrs and plastic up to 2-3days.
Suppose if an infected person touches that pack/product, and he/she may not buy, then another person touches that pack, unknowingly must be potential patient for the COVID – 19. It induces a range of signs and indications or none at all. It can spread quickly from person-to-person and can be coughed into the air and onto surfaces.
So, in the future must be provision for the retailers to sterilization the top packaging surface and makes it free from such viruses.
Another packaging surfaces automatically kill the virus from the top packaging surface as such. (Killer Paper invented by Ronen Gottesman) Automatically killing the virus can be an alternative method such as radiation, heat treatment, and low-temperature storage for the preservation of food or other products. Currently, the sterilization process limited only to medical device packaging but up to the packaging process, not afterward.
So, the packaging engineer needs to think in that way, how we can save society and enhances the assurance that this virus will not spread through the packaging surface.
How long corona Virus lives on the surface: Best explains on The World Economic Forum website.