Why is the Coronavirus considered dangerous goods for transport?

The biggest news story of 2020 so far has undoubtedly been the outbreak of the Coronavirus in China’s Wuhan, Hubei Province. Declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a global emergency, sadly, the deadly virus has claimed the lives of hundreds, and to date, infected more than 24,000, with numbers rising daily. The outbreak has also seen the virus spread internationally, into Australia, the United States, and even reaching parts of Europe and the UK. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses with most strains typically attacking the respiratory system.

The fight against the virus has been arduous for scientists around the globe who have been working around the clock to formulate a vaccine. Scientists in Melbourne were able to replicate the virus, the first step required to create a vaccine. Our very own dangerous goods team was able to play its part in this process too, with one of our customers needing safe and compliant packaging to airfreight the replicated virus to Europe and parts of Asia.

To get the replicated virus from the lab into other countries efficiently, and in line with international compliance, there are several steps that need to be taken because the virus is deemed as dangerous goods.

So, why is the Coronavirus classified as dangerous goods?

Viruses are classified as infectious substances: Under the International Air Transport Association (IATA) infectious substances are known or reasonably expected to contain pathogens which deems them a class 6.2 dangerous goods – infectious substance.
Pathogens are micro-organisms – including viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, rickettsiae and other agents such as prions which can cause diseases in humans or animals. An infectious substance which is transported in a form that, when exposure to it occurs, can cause permanent disability, life-threatening or fatal disease in humans and animals. Exposure can occur when the infectious substance is released outside adequate protective packaging, resulting in physical contact.

It’s therefore vital that when infectious substances like the Coronavirus are being prepared to be transported for international air freight, the correct measures and precautions are taken including specific containment. This ensures the safety of all people involved in the transportation process including airline passengers, crew and ground staff, as well as those receiving the package at the requested destination.

Many biological samples and substances are also not considered dangerous goods and can be transported safely without additional documentation and labeling. Correctly classifying this cargo can save time and money in the logistics process and give others the confidence that your cargo is compliant with international and local regulations.

We are specialists at completing thorough dangerous goods compliance checks of substances used for medicinal purposes and pleased to be able to help in the fight against the Coronavirus. For more information about compliant transport of dangerous goods or hazardous substances please get in touch with us today.

Marair Dangerous Goods Specialists


12 Allied Drive
Tullamarine Victoria 3043 Australia
Phone: +61 3 8318 4500


55 Tacoma Circuit
Canning Vale WA 6155 Australia
Phone: +61 8 6350 0200


Unit 7 14 Childs Road
Chipping Norton NSW 2170 Australia
Phone: +61 2 9727 3284

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