COVID-19 Expert Database

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Question

Does wearing gloves protect against or stop the spread of COVID-19?

Last modified on 24 July 2020

What our experts say

Wearing gloves does not directly protect against spread of the virus. COVID-19 is thought to spread primarily through small drops of moisture (respiratory droplets) that are released when a person infected with COVID-19 coughs, talks, or sneezes. Those drops can then land on the faces of people, surfaces, and items nearby. Wearing new and sterile gloves is not as effective as 20 seconds of hand washing with soap and water, but they can help you avoid touching an infected surface or item with your bare hands. Keep in mind that gloves can only prevent infection if you don’t touch your face with your gloved hands, and only if you take off and dispose of the gloves correctly before washing your hands. It is also important to remember to touch as few surfaces and items as possible if you are wearing gloves in order to avoid contaminating surfaces and spreading COVID-19 to more people. Remember that the best way to prevent spreading or getting infected with COVID-19 is through washing your bare hands for 20 seconds with water and soap, maintaining at least six feet of physical distance between yourself and others, and regularly washing and disinfecting surfaces in your household. For people caring for, or in contact with, people who have been infected with COVID-19, wearing gloves can help make sure the caretaker doesn’t touch dangerous substances that come from the sick person’s body, like mucus from a sneeze, urine, blood, feces, or other fluids.

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Context and background

Sterile gloves, when properly worn and properly disposed of, can be a helpful element in protecting against infectious disease. However, if a person is not wearing gloves correctly, not putting them on correctly, or not disposing of them correctly, it defeats the purpose of wearing gloves. It is important to remember that any germs that someone comes into contact with, can be on a person’s gloves, and can then be transferred to any other surface that the gloves touch. It also can give people a false sense of security while wearing gloves, and can result in people touching surfaces and items more freely, then touching their faces, which can lead to self-contamination with the virus. Wearing gloves is only an effective protection when the person wearing them follows the right protective methods. If they aren’t followed, it can lead to contamination with a virus.

Data

Source of the question

Fact-checking organization

Country question was sourced from

Nigeria

Topics

drop droplet gloves hand washing prevention transmission spread

Does this answer vary depending on where you live?

No

Does this answer vary depending on your race, ethnicity, age, sex or other demographic factors?

No

Resources

  1. How COVID-19 spreads (U.S. CDC)
  2. Outline of the evidence and considerations on medical glove use to prevent germ transmission (WHO)
  3. Hand Hygiene: Why, How & When? (WHO)
  4. Wearing-gloves (WHO)
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We base our COVID-19 expert contextualizations on information provided by internationally-recognized health organizations, public health researchers and infectious disease experts. Because information in epidemics is constantly being updated, our content is up to date based on the date and time they are published. If you’re looking for medical advice, please contact a healthcare provider, and be sure to review the World Health Organization website for more information about COVID-19.

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