Health experts have warned us that coronavirus spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or even just talks or breaths near another person, which is why wearing a face mask is so important in protecting yourself and others from the virus.
The public has also been warned that the virus can live on surfaces and be spread if you touch a surface with the virus and then touch your face. The Centers for Disease Control previously reported that coronavirus can live on surfaces for days. For example, the virus lasts on plastered walls for 36 hours, and plastic or stainless steel materials for 72 hours.
New evidence adds another culprit to the list of coronavirus carriers: your shoes.
Coronavirus can live on your shoes
A small study was done in the intensive care unit and general COVID-19 ward at the Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan, China, and found that coronavirus can be spread via people’s shoes.
The intensive care unit housed 15 patients with severe symptoms and the general ward housed 24 patients who were experiencing milder symptoms.
In the study, which was published in the Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal, researchers tested swab surface samples from the floors, computer mice, trash cans, sickbed handrails, patient masks, personal protective equipment, and air outlets.
Floor swab samples tested positive at a relatively high rate “perhaps because of gravity and air flow causing most virus droplets to float to the ground.”
The study concluded that, as medical staff walk around the ward, the virus can be tracked all over the floor. They are confident about this as there was 100% rate of positivity from the floor in the pharmacy, where there were no patients present.
Samples were taken from the soles of shoes of the intensive care unit medical workers, and found that half tested positive, further leading health officials to conclude that the shoes might function as carriers of coronavirus.
“The 3 weak positive results from the floor of dressing room 4 might also arise from these carriers. We highly recommend that persons disinfect shoe soles before walking out of wards containing COVID-19 patients,” the study said.
How can you keep from spreading the virus through your shoes?
The authors of the study highly recommend that people disinfect their shoe soles before walking out of wards that contain coronavirus patients. Disinfecting, which is different from cleaning, refers to using chemicals, for example, EPA-registered disinfectants, to kill germs on surfaces, according to the CDC.
For disinfection, most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
A list of products that are EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19 is available here.