Research suggests coronavirus can be spread through our shoes

PHOTO: Unsplash

Experts have confirmed that the main transmission of coronavirus is through droplets and there is a higher chance of infection when people touch surfaces that the droplets land on.

While we have asked whether people can get coronavirus from farts, what about shoes? After all, when we leave our homes to get groceries or exercise, our shoes are possibly collecting bacteria from outdoor surfaces.

If there is a risk of coronavirus spreading via shoes, is it then necessary to disinfect your shoes after every outdoor trip?

Study

A study published in the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s journal may have the answer.

In the study, researchers in Wuhan, China tested several surface samples in the intensive care unit (ICU) and a general Covid-19 ward at Houshenshan Hospital.

Between Feb 19 and March 2, swab samples were collected from potentially contaminated surfaces of floors, computer mice, trash cans and hospital bed handrails, to name a few.

The results showed that many of the samples tested positive for the coronavirus, but floors seem to be a common and unexpected hotspot.

The rate of positivity for floor samples was 70 per cent for the ICU ward and 15 per cent for the general ward. According to the study, it could be due to the gravity and air flow which cause the virus droplets to float to the ground.

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What may be even more surprising is that 100 per cent of samples taken from the pharmacy floor tested positive for the coronavirus, even where there were no patients.

The report speculated that the contamination could be due to medical staff moving around the ward, potentially tracking the coronavirus all over the floor. Half of the samples from the soles of medical staff shoes from the ICU also tested positive.

Hence it is possible that the shoes of medical staff might be carriers of the coronavirus. Researchers therefore recommended medical staff in contact with patients to disinfect the soles of their shoes before leaving the wards, as a precaution.

Should we disinfect our shoes?

One thing the study showed is how easy it is for the coronavirus to spread.

Earlier studies have also shown that the coronavirus can remain on surfaces for up to nine days at room temperature. So there's a chance that it could live on shoes too for a period of time.

While infectious disease experts say that the possibility of people bringing the coronavirus into their homes from outdoors is low, we should always take certain precautions to be safe.

According to the experts, here are some things you can do:

  • Be careful when removing your shoes. Either use gloves or try not to touch them while taking them off and immediately wash your hands after.
  • Clean your shoes regularly. Spray the top and bottom with disinfectants and let it sit for around a minute. Wipe the shoes and wash your hands immediately after. If using a washing machine, wash shoes frequently using high heat.
  • Store shoes properly. Place shoes near the door of the home in a basket or on paper to isolate germs. Clean the floor under the shoes as needed.
  • Opt for wearing footwear made of plastic when you go out, as it is easier to disinfect.

While it is not necessary to disinfect your shoes after every outdoor trip, it is always good to be aware of proper hygiene practices, even if it's for your shoes!

For the latest updates on the coronavirus, visit here.

trining@asiaone.com