Health Experts Warn Coronavirus Can Survive on Shoe Soles for Up to FIVE Days
COVID-19 can be picked up by footwear from busy areas and walked into home
Health experts are warning the deadly Chinese coronavirus can survive on the soles of shoes for up to five days, according to reports.
Infectious disease specialists warn footwear is more likely to carry COVID-19 if it has been worn in busy areas like public transport, stores, or airports.
The sole of a shoe is the main breeding ground for bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
Respiratory droplets carried in the air from a person infected with the coronavirus can still land anywhere on the upper part of a shoe like the laces or the heel.
Soles are typically made from durable, synthetic materials like rubber, PVC or leather lined with plastic.
All of these materials carry high levels of bacteria because they are non-porous, meaning they do not allow air, liquid or moisture to pass through.
San Diego family doctor Georgine Nanos told Huffington Post Australia the likelihood of footwear carrying COVID-19 increases if it has been worn in heavily populated areas, like offices, shopping centers, trains, buses, and airports.
Missouri health advisor Dr. Mary E. Schmidt agreed, saying the coronavirus has been shown to live on synthetic surfaces for "five days or more" by studies on materials closely related to shoe fabrics at room temperature.
These claims have been supported by Kansas City public health specialist Carole Winner, who said shoes made with plastic and other synthetic materials can carry active viruses for days.
Ms. Winner said shoes should be left in garages or directly inside the front door.
"The idea is to just not to track them throughout the house," she told HuffPost.
People who are not working from home and continuing to commute, like healthcare workers and shop assistants, are advised to use one pair of shoes for any time spent out of the house.
Shoes made from canvas, soft fabrics or faux leather should be cleaned in the washing machine on a low-temperature cycle.
Leather shoes or heavy-duty work boots should be cleaned by hand with disinfectant wipes.
Melbourne environmental scientist Nicole Bijlsma previously warned Daily Mail Australia about the dust and allergens shoes can carry into the home.
She said it's best to leave footwear outside or directly inside the door rather than traipsing them through the house.
But when it comes to virus-proofing your home against COVID-19, Ms. Bijlsma said it's important to draw the line between keeping things clean and over sanitizing surfaces.
"The conundrum is that bacteria are critical for humans - the more bacteria we are exposed to, the stronger our immune response will be," she said on Thursday.
"It's absolutely justified to disinfect everything in hospital settings and in places where you have high-risk individuals, but for most households, clinical sanitizing will actually reduce bacterial diversity which is counterproductive."
Regularly washing hands, avoiding touching your face and coughing and sneezing into the crook of your elbow instead of your hand are the best defenses we have against the rapid spread of coronavirus, Ms. Bijlsma said.