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What you need to know today about protective footwear and COVID-19

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While there is a very low possibility of COVID-19 spreading through footwear, shoe covers are not a component of PPE.

Low possibility of spreading COVID-19 through shoes

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the likelihood of COVID-19 being spread via footwear and infecting individuals is very low. As a precautionary measure, the WHO recommends leaving shoes at the entrance of home. This will prevent contact with dirt or any waste that could be carried on the soles of shoes.

A study from China showed that the soles of medical staff shoes might function as carriers. From 19 February through 2 March 2020, swab samples were collected from potentially contaminated objects in the ICU and GW at Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan, China. The researchers concluded that the coronavirus can be tracked all over the floor, as indicated by 100% rate of positivity from the floor in the pharmacy, where there were no patients. 

They added that half of the samples from the soles of ICU medical staff shoes tested positive, and recommended that the soles of footwear are disinfected before walking out of wards containing COVID-19 patients.

How to disinfect shoes

The CDC recommends sitting down on a “clean chair” before using Environmental Protection Agency-registered disinfectant wipes to thoroughly disinfect all surfaces of the shoe, moving from top to bottom and including the sole.

Disinfecting shoe mats have proved popular with consumers. SaniStride reported an increase in sales of their Shoe Sanitizer Dispensing Mats by more than 500 percent

Joseph Khabbaza, MD, a pulmonary and critical care specialist from Cleveland Clinic, said that while it won’t hurt to clean your shoes and avoid wearing them in the house, practicing regular hand sanitising, avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands, and social distancing are your best bets for avoiding infection.

A range of disinfectant devices can be found through our Omnia Health Marketplace. 

Protective footwear when cleaning and disinfecting environmental surfaces in the context of COVID-19

According to the WHO, disinfection practices are important to reduce the potential for COVID-19 virus contamination in non-healthcare settings, such as in the home, office, schools, gyms, publicly accessible buildings, faith-based community centres, markets, transportation and business settings or restaurants.

PPE for preparing or using disinfectants in health care settings includes closed work shoes, as well as uniforms with long-sleeves, gowns and/or impermeable aprons, rubber gloves, medical mask, and eye protection (preferably face shield).

The minimum recommended PPE furthermore in non-healthcares settings is closed shoes, rubber gloves and impermeable aprons. 

PPE does not include shoe covers

COVID-19 PPE for healthcare personnel includes goggles or disposable face shield, gown, pair of clean, non-sterile gloves - but no shoe or boot covers - as shown in the following CDC infographic

Similarly, official UK guidance (updated April 2020) does not make any recommendations for use of shoe protective equipment

A Centre for Evidence Based Medicine (CEBM) review from April 2020 stated that it had found no systematic reviews or randomised trials looking at the effectiveness of shoe covers as part of PPE, either in the context of COVID-19 or in other outbreaks. 

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