Dubai: A new report by the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims that shoes could be highly effective carriers for the COVID-19 virus. While the probability of getting infected with the virus is higher and more probable with close contact than from contaminated shoes, the report focused on the fact that shoes, worn by medical staff in particular, could lead to spreading the virus away from the source.
The study collected sample swabs off the floor, computer mice, trash cans etc. in the ICU as well as a general ward with COVID-19 positive patients. Half of the shoes worn by medical staff in the ICU tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
In addition to this, there was a '100 per cent positivity' from the floor of the pharmacy of the hospital where the study was conducted, which had no patients at all. There were also weak positives from the dressing room.
All of this proves, the study claims, that shoes worn by medical staff could effectively carry and deposit the virus away from the source.
The risk of carrying the virus on shoes for public comes from visiting places that could have a high probability of traffic of COVID-19 positive individuals - such as hospitals, pharmacies, groceries.
How high is the risk
Carol Winner told the Huffington Post: “pragmatically, they [shoes] are on the body part furthest from our face, and we do know that the greatest risk of transmission is person to person, not shoe to person”. However, experts have said over the years that shoe materials can carry viruses and bacteria effectively.
According to a 2008 study published by Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona the average shoe sole is covered with 421,000 bacteria, viruses and parasites.
'Outside' shoes and inside 'shoes'
The primary advice various virologists and experts are suggesting is to keep a single pair of shoes exclusively to wear and use outside of your home, which you then either leave outside and disinfect as required.
Dr Lisa Cross - a virologist - said on Channel 4’s Coronavirus: How Clean Is Your House that the virus can survive on materials such as the rubber soles of shoes for anywhere from “three to five days”. She recommended “just only having one pair of shoes to go in and out”.
Disinfecting slippers or shoes by either wiping them or washing them (depending on the material) is advised and so is keeping the 'outside' footwear in the same secluded spot every day. Washing clothes and cleaning footwear, in addition to hand sanitisation, wearing masks and gloves (and discarding them properly) and social distancing, can help reduce risks of contracting COVID-19.