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Covid-19: Coronavirus can survive on shoes for up to 5 days, warn experts

Infectious disease specialist Mary E. Schmidt warned that the coronavirus survives on soles of rubber, leather and PVC for over five days or more, suggesting that people should wear shoes that are machine washable.

Updated: Mar 30, 2020 09:26 IST

By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times Delhi

nfectious disease specialist Mary E. Schmidt warned that the coronavirus survives on soles of rubber, leather and PVC for over five days. (UNSPLASH)

The coronavirus has brought the world to a standstill and this deadly virus that has affected over 660,000 people across the world sticks to inanimate objects to like shopping carts, doors, metal surfaces, plastic and cardboard too. And unsurprisingly, shoes are a “breeding ground” for germs, according to experts. In a Huffington Post UK article, infectious disease specialist Mary E. Schmidt warned that the coronavirus survives on soles of rubber, leather and PVC for over five days or more, suggesting that people should wear shoes that are machine washable. The upper part of the shoe can also hold the virus for days depending on what it is made of. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases coronavirus can survive on plastic for around two or three days. Which means shoes made of plastic are just as risky.

However, doctors have other concerns. Emergency physician Cwanza Pinckney told HuffPost, “The sole of the shoe is the breeding ground of more bacteria and fungi and viruses than the upper part of a shoe.” Adding that many of these microorganisms “influence and allow us to develop immunity.”

Despite this, public health specialist Carol Winner says that it’s smartest to take off your shoes before entering your home, saying, “If you can leave them in your garage or in your entryway, that would be ideal, as you don’t necessarily have to leave them outside. The idea is to just not track them throughout the house.”

And it’s only fair, as a 2008 study by the University of Arizona’s microbiologists found that the average shoe sole contains some 421,000 bacteria, viruses and parasites. However, parents need to be mindful about their kids around such dirty shoes.

Schmidt said to HuffPost, “You have to hide the shoes from small children to ensure they don’t touch them. Teach them not to touch shoes unless they are designated indoor shoes, as shoes are the dirtiest objects we have in our homes, other than the toilets.”

However, Winner believes that it is best to focus on hand-washing and ones personal hygiene rather than worry about what’s living under your shoes. She said, “There is no evidence to say that the coronavirus comes into the house from shoes. Pragmatically, they 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.” 

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