How worried do you need to be about getting coronavirus from your running shoes? We ask a doctor

Abigail Buchanan
Photo credit: playb - Getty Images

From Runner's World

The main advice for limiting the spread of coronavirus – other than staying in your house, unless you're an essential worker, natch – is to wash your hands thoroughly, to use hand sanitiser gel and to catch coughs or sneezes in a tissue. But should that list include taking your running shoes off before you walk through the front door?

A few stories have been percolating around this issue, stating that the materials that typically make up shoes could be a place for the virus to lurk.

Why? Well, a study conducted at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that the virus can live up to two or three days on hard plastic surfaces. Given that the soles of shoes are made from durable, non-porous materials such as plastic and rubber, it is possible that the virus could survive on soles.

Can coronavirus spread on your shoes?

But, provided you follow the general rules of hygiene around shoes, you shouldn't be too worried about this. As COVID-19 is spread through contact with respiratory droplets from someone who is infected, the likelihood of spreading or contracting the virus from shoes is low.

Dr Adwoa Danso, a London-based NHS GP, says, 'We do know that coronavirus can live on surfaces, and this would include shoes.

'Having said that, it is still low risk and requires droplets to land on said surface. Most people already have a habit of taking their shoes off before entering their homes so I would encourage people to keep this up.'

Catching coronavirus from your shoes would only be possible if the respiratory secretions of someone who was infected survived on the pavement, transferred to your shoes, and were then transferred from your shoes to your mouth - basically, it's extremely unlikely if you're following basic hygiene guidance.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

According to the NHS website, the primary symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • A fever
  • A new, consistent cough

Other coronavirus symptoms that have been reported include:

  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • A headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • A loss of smell or taste
  • Muscle pain

What should you do if you have symptoms of coronavirus?

If you have symptoms of coronavirus you should use the NHS 111 Coronavirus service online. People are being urged to only call 111 if they cannot get help online.

To avoid infecting others, do not go to a GP surgery or pharmacy if you suspect you have coronavirus.

If you need urgent medical help that you cannot get online, call 111. In an life-threatening emergency call 999 for an ambulance.

Disclaimer: The information in this story is accurate as of the publication date. While we are attempting to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop rapidly, so it's possible that some information and recommendations may have changed since publishing. For any concerns and latest advice, visit the World Health Organisation. If you're in the UK, the National Health Service can also provide useful information and support, while US users can contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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