Research on infectious diseases has come to the conclusion that COVID-19 can live on certain surfaces, such as shoe soles for up to five days. This happens if the footwear is worn in busy areas such as supermarkets, airports or public transport.
Bacteria are generally transmitted through the sole of the shoe, but droplets of viruses that are in the air can always land anywhere on the top of the shoe, such as laces or heels.
The soles are usually made of durable, synthetic materials such as rubber, PVC or plastic-coated leather and do not allow air, liquid or moisture to pass through, and therefore carry high levels of bacteria.
Australians are becoming more aware of how the virus can be introduced into their homes, especially given that the number of infections is increasing daily and is currently rising to 3,168 (March 27), with 13 deaths.
HOW LONG CAN SURVIVE ON SURFACES?
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, coronavirus can live on stainless steel and plastic for up to three days and on cardboard for 24 hours.
However, the virus can remain on synthetic materials used in shoes for as long as five days.
The good thing is that frequently touched surfaces like door handles, taps, toilets, phone cases, and computer keyboards should be cleaned using bleach or alcohol solutions of at least 70 percent alcohol.
The fact that coronavirus lives on synthetic surfaces ‘five days or more’ has also been confirmed by Missouri Health Advisor Dr. Mary E. Schmidt and Kansas City Public Health Specialist Carole Winner who said shoes made of plastic and other synthetic materials can take days to carry active viruses.
According to Ms. Winner, shoes should be left in garages or next to the front door, instead of walking all over the house.
For anyone who is unable to work at home but is already commuting, such as health professionals and other servants, it is advised to use one pair of shoes to protect others from contracting the virus.
Shoe cleaning recommendations:
- Made of linen, soft fabrics or synthetic leather – Clean in a washing machine on a low-temperature cycle
- Leather shoes or sturdy boots – Clean manually with disinfectant wipes.
Also, Melbourne environmental scientist Nicole Bijlsma told Daily Mail Australia that shoes, because of dust and allergens, should not be brought into the home, but should be left outside or just inside the door.
She added that it is important to draw the line between keeping things clean and disinfecting surfaces, emphasizing:
“The conundrum is that bacteria are critical for humans – the more bacteria we are exposed to, the stronger our immune response will be.”
They advocate justification for disinfection in hospital settings and in high-risk settings, but clinical cleaning is not necessary for most households, as this will actually reduce bacterial diversity, which is counterproductive.
As the best measures to prevent the rapid spread of coronavirus, she recommends:
- Washing your hands regularly,
- Avoiding touching your face
- Coughing and sneezing in the groin of the elbow instead of the arm
WASH FRUIT AND VEGETABLES WITH SOAP
University of Sydney Associate Professor Timothy Newsome, who specialized in infection, vaccines and virology, confirmed that ‘every surface is a hazard’ when it comes to COVID-19, including fresh produce on supermarket shelves.
He pointed out that the virus can live on most surfaces even on grocery goods (particularly fruits and vegs), as customers are constantly picking up and placing back down items.
Because of that, he recommends everyone to treat everything touched as potential sources of contamination.
The best practice should be to wash fruit and vegetables with soap as soon as they are brought home, instead of simply relying on the high heat of cooking them to ‘kill’ the virus.
Mr. Newsome said:
‘Wash them with warm soapy water, just as you do your hands.’