There are folks in India who are cancelling their subscriptions to newspapers for fear of catching COVID-19 from them.

A doctor on an NDTV COVID-19 Q&A Show dismissed the risk:

So far, it has not been found that it will remain on these surfaces (the things that are being couriered or even the newspapers) - that the virus will remain for a long period of time. So, I think we should not worry about this issue; that if we are getting something from Amazon or even the newspaper that it will be infected. The virus will not be stable on these surface; and therefore nothing to worry about.

(He goes on to recommend keeping distance from the deliverer, and washing hands after receiving the products.)

Note: The source might have a bias because the TV station is a subsidiary of the Times of India, a newspaper.

What is the risk level?

  • 1
    If you have encountered the claim that it can survive on newspapers please link to this claim, otherwise your question may be closed for not being on-topic. Mar 30, 2020 at 11:32
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    I think this will be challenging to answer because of the difference between "There is a theoretical possibility that there is a trace level of viable SARS-CoV-2." and "This is a risk that is worth worrying about, and drawing your attention away from other vectors."
    – Oddthinking
    Mar 30, 2020 at 12:30
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    I am not aware of any tests on paper, but it's 24hr to be sure cardboard is safe. I let Amazon boxes sit a day, I was going to read the paper a day behind but my wife was too scared. The paper off the press is pretty close to sterile, but if the delivery person were sick... Apr 2, 2020 at 4:38

1 Answer 1


There's no meaningful risk of spread via newspaper.

A study published in The Lancet investigating the survival of SARS-CoV-2 on various surfaces found that, when samples of the virus were placed on both printing and tissue paper, levels of the virus decreased to below detectable levels in less than three hours. Actual survival time isn't known, since the study only checked virus levels at 30 minutes after contamination and three hours after contamination.

If you're feeling nervous, get the newspaper, wash your hands, and wait three hours before reading.

  • Thanks. No I have still been getting it. In my flats they told the paper guy to leave them at the entrance. But many have unsubscribed thanks to WhatsApp msgs.
    – tgkprog
    Apr 9, 2020 at 4:37

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