Coronavirus can survive on shoes for up to five days, disease specialists warn

Coronavirus can survive on the soles of shoes for up to five days, an infectious disease specialist has warned.

The sole of a shoe is the main ‘breeding ground’ for bacteria, fungi and viruses and footwear is more likely to be a potential source of contamination if worn in busy areas like supermarkets or on public transport, experts have suggested.

Although there is currently no firm evidence that the virus has come into houses through footwear, one emergency physician has advised dedicating one pair of shoes just for work to avoid potentially bringing the illness into the house.

Family practitioner Georgine Nanos said coronavirus can live on surfaces for up to 12 hours or potentially longer, adding that this definitely includes footwear.

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However, infectious disease specialist Mary E. Schmidt told HuffPost that it could actually be five days or more, citing studies done on materials closely related to shoe materials at room temperature.

Soles are normally made of non-porous materials – including rubber, leather and PVC compounds – and can carry high levels of bacteria, according to a study published by Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona.

Public health specialist Carol Winner told HuffPost that respiratory droplets containing coronavirus can land on footwear, with some synthetic materials including spandex letting the virus to remain for a few days.

Ms Winner recommends that people take off their shoes before they enter the house and leave them in the entryway after going to the public space.

However, she has made it clear that more research is needed, adding: ’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.’

No matter what kind of footwear someone wears, it is important to pay attention to the sole rather than the upper part, emergency physician Cwanza Pinckney has stressed.

She said: ‘I recommend having a dedicated pair of shoes to go out in and then a clean pair to change into before entering the house. 

‘Health care workers are always mindful to change shoes [and put work shoes in bags] before getting in the car and going home.’

Ms Nanos also recommends wiping down work shoes with cloths frequently and washing shoes in the washing machine or with hot water and soap if this is not possible.

It comes as a nurse warns that long nails can be one of the fastest spreaders of coronavirus as they can harbour germs, bacteria and even the virus underneath.

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