How Businesses Should Handle Customers’ Coronavirus Questions About Imported Goods

February 17, 2020

The novel coronavirus (now named COVID-19), which originated in Wuhan, China, is spreading rapidly throughout China and into other parts of the world. While reported cases in the United States are low, more than 70,000 have been reported in China, including over 1,700 deaths.

Because of the large amount of goods manufactured in China and imported into the United States, businesses may receive calls from customers inquiring about the health risks of accepting those goods. Questions may include:

  • Can the virus live on an inanimate object, and if so, for how long?
  • Can I get coronavirus if someone infected with it handles the item in China and I subsequently purchase it?

Businesses that receive these kinds of questions should not offer medical advice to the general public about this illness or its transmission. Companies should advise their call centers, and anyone else within the companies who may field such calls, to refer customers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website for more information.

For questions or additional guidance, contact any of the McGuireWoods COVID-19 Response Team members.