Covid and shoes: what are the risks?

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Sometimes confusing messages about the lifespan of the coronavirus on different surfaces can be confusing. Some people fear that transmission of the virus may occur through shoes.

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, you may have followed the health and safety guidelines that you have followed to the letter. Distance of at least one meter between each person, wear a mask, wash hands frequently, disinfect door handles, store shopping bags for a few hours before going to storage. Some of these measures have been validated by experts, while others question their effectiveness.

As a precaution, you may also be tempted to pay close attention to your shoes. According to a study published by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shoes could be used to spread the virus. Therefore, researchers advise healthcare personnel to disinfect their insoles when they are moved from one room to another within a hospital.

So should we treat our sneakers and shoes as possible vectors of the coronavirus? Should I disinfect the soles when I return from shopping or a walk? Do you have to take off your shoes before entering the door? "It would be perfectly useless," says Jean-Paul Stahl, professor of infectious medicine at CHU Grenoble Alpes.

"If a sick person sneezes in their shoes, they will necessarily be in contact with the virus. But trying to prevent this risk is a waste of time, because the effect is minimal," continues the specialist. "The only measures to respect are to wear a mask, respect safety distances, and wash your hands regularly."

The professor remembers that the nursing personnel already have the habit of changing shoes before starting the service in a health facility. Therefore, spending time disinfecting soles or washing shoes at night would be pointless, "unless this ritual helps reduce personal anxiety. In this case, do your best to relax," he concluded.

In the United States, experts do not have a firm opinion. Some point out that the data on the useful life of the virus depending on the materials are not yet well known. And, given the distance between the shoes and the face, it is highly unlikely that contamination can occur.

However, the most prudent advice is to leave the shoes outside the accommodation after each trip and clean them with hot soapy water. But the essential gesture to remember between each manipulation is always the same: wash your hands.

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