Infected patient in quarantine lying in bed in hospital, coronavirus concept.

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“The soles of medical staff shoes might function as carriers,” the report warns. “We highly recommend that persons disinfect shoe soles before walking out of wards containing COVID-19 patients.”


ATLANTA — Social distancing has become the law of the land during the coronavirus outbreak. From staying at home to keeping away from other people, the world is doing what it can to stop the spread of COVID-19. A troubling new study says those efforts may not be enough.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the virus may travel through the air even further than originally thought. Coronavirus has also been found living on the shoes of medical workers, threatening to carry the illness to more locations.

A study, published in the CDC’s journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, tested the air and surfaces inside hospitals in Wuhan, China — the suspected origin of the pandemic. The CDC says SARS-CoV-2 was found in the air up to 13 feet away from patients. Officials add that the virus which causes COVID-19 was also “widely distributed on floors, computer mice, trash cans, and sickbed handrails.”

To this point, the CDC’s social distancing policies recommend staying at least six feet away from others.

The April 10 study says that SARS-CoV-2 contamination was greater in the intensive care unit than the general ward of the Chinese hospitals, but warn that the risk for infection is high no matter where you are in a medical center.

“SARS-CoV-2 was widely distributed in the air and on object surfaces in both the ICU and GW, implying a potentially high infection risk for medical staff and other close contacts,” the report explained.

Coronavirus Can Be Carried Anywhere On Your Clothing

The study says the virus wasn’t just found in areas with patients, it was also being brought into other rooms by the workers’ shoes. Officials say coronavirus was “tracked all over the floor” of the hospital pharmacy and dressing rooms.

“Half of the samples from the soles of the ICU medical staff shoes tested positive. Therefore, the soles of medical staff shoes might function as carriers,” the report warns. “We highly recommend that persons disinfect shoe soles before walking out of wards containing COVID-19 patients.”

The CDC study adds that disposed medical masks “contained exhaled droplets and oral secretions” and were also a threat to infect others. Officials recommend disinfecting your masks before throwing them away.

The research was carried out by a team from the Academy of Military Medical Sciences and Academy of Military Sciences in Beijing, China.

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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