Introduction: The assessment of the risk of virus transmission through papers, such as postcards, is important. However, the stability of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and influenza A virus (IAV) on different types of papers is currently unknown. Investigation of the survival time of these viruses on different types of papers will provide insights into their risk of long-distance transport by postal items.
Methods: We evaluated the stability of SARS-CoV-2 and IAV, mixed with a culture medium, on the surface of postcards with various coatings, including plain paper (PP), inkjet paper (IP), and inkjet photo paper (IPP). The surface structure of each paper was microscopically assessed.
Results: The surface structures of PP, IP, and IPP varied greatly depending on the presence or absence, and type, of coat layer, regardless of the base material. IP and IPP surfaces were less conducive to virus survival than PP surfaces, because of the difference in surface shapes. The survival times of SARS-CoV-2 on each paper were approximately 59.8 (PP), 6.5 (IP), and 9.8 h (IPP), and significantly longer than those of IAV (10.3, 1.8, and 3.3 h, respectively).
Conclusions: The risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission via paper, such as postcards, is significantly higher than that of IAV transmission. While PP, IP, and IPP have the same base material, their surface structures differ, which affects viral stability. The IP and IPP surfaces are less suitable for virus survival. This study provides novel insights into the risks of viral transmission via paper.