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Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher March 27, 2020

Still no proof that sunlight kills the new coronavirus

If Your Time is short

 

  • There’s no evidence that sunlight can kill the coronavirus.

  • Experts say ultraviolet light in the sun isn’t strong enough.

  • The best way to avoid contracting COVID-19 is to wash your hands with soap and water, avoid touching your face, disinfect surfaces in your home daily and avoid close contact with people.

Advice attributed to a delivery driver calls for leaving objects in the sun as a way to avoid contracting the coronavirus.

This is what was shared in a Facebook post:

"I received an Amazon delivery this morning. The driver was almost to his truck by the time I opened the door, bent to pick up the box and said thank you. He turned and walked back toward the house. He said, ‘Ma’am, these deliveries come from the distribution center. We’ve had positive testing for the virus. Leave the box out here in the sun for six to eight hours, then open the box and take the item out of any packaging before you take it in the house. Leave the box and packaging outside. Then go wash your hands immediately.’ Wow. Good information but this is getting freaky."

If only.

Sadly, there still is no proof that the sun can kill COVID-19.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) It was soon deleted, but we found the same claim elsewhere.

Featured Fact-check

Preliminary research into coronavirus indicates it can live on cardboard surfaces like boxes for up to 24 hours. But there is no evidence that sun exposure kills the coronavirus, as we said in rating False a claim that "being exposed to the sun for two hours" kills the virus. 

We also rated False a more general claim — that sun can kill the coronavirus. That claim was made by U.S. Rep. Greg Murphy, a North Carolina Republican and a physician. Experts said ultraviolet rays in sunlight aren’t intense enough to kill the virus. 

That sunlight isn’t strong enough has also been reported by AFP Fact Check.

So what should you do about your cardboard packages? After digging into the research and advisories from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Wirecutter’s Ganda Suthivarakom on March 24 wrote: "The CDC’s advice on protecting yourself does not include advice on disinfecting packages. Its general advice stands: Wash your hands frequently and avoid close contact with people."

To be extra cautious, she writes, "you can dispose of the outer packaging outside your home and wash your hands immediately after handling."

Our ruling

There isn’t evidence that leaving items in the sun can protect you from contracting the coronavirus. The best way to avoid COVID-19 is to wash your hands with soap and water, avoid touching your face, disinfect surfaces in your home daily and avoid close contact with people.

We rate the Facebook statement False.

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Still no proof that sunlight kills the new coronavirus

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