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Do gloves protect you from COVID-19

Do gloves protect you from COVID-19

Last Reviewed : 12/16/2020
Do gloves protect you from COVID-19

As the number of COVID-19 cases is rising steeply, panic over the pandemic is also spreading all across the globe. Every individual wants to take precautions and some people are taking extreme precautions to protect themselves and their families. As the general public is stockpiling and resorting to desperate measures, hand-sanitizers and face masks are quickly sold out.

General public is now using disposable gloves when they are outside to avoid touching potentially contaminated surfaces. More and more people are seen wearing gloves outside, especially in New York where COVID-19 cases are exploding.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend wearing disposable gloves to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in a community setting, unless a caregiver is taking care of an infected person. World Health Organization (WHO) also made similar recommendations that using disposable gloves in the community is not needed to prevent the spread of infection. Both CDC and WHO emphasize on handwashing using soap and water as frequently as possible. If soap and water are not immediately available, hand sanitizer should be applied.

Multiple concerns were raised regarding the usage of gloves by the general public:

  1. Inappropriate usage: Using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like gloves need some professional training. Healthcare providers use gloves very often in a hospital or clinic setting and they are very well trained. General public may not have the same knowledge. Touching the outside of the gloves while removing them can easily spread the infection.
  2. False sense of security: As the disposable gloves are not durable, they get ripped off easily without your knowledge. Small holes may not be easily seen on the gloves giving a false sense of protection from these gloves. As per Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), only after 12 minutes of simulated clinical use, vinly glove defect rates increased to 35 percent. Defects are commonly observed in the crotch between the thumb and finger.
  3. Unintentional spread of infection: With gloves, our hands may seem to be protected but we may be touching several other objects and we may be spreading infection unintentionally. Some individuals use their cell phone, car keys, wallets while using the gloves and also while gloves are taken off. This increases the risk of infection.

If gloves are required to take care of affected people, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has developed standards for patient examination gloves. Their website can be accessed for more information regarding which gloves are more protective.

CDC does not recommend using double gloves even when providing care to COVID-19 affected people. According to the CDC, extended length gloves are not necessary, but they may be used while delivering care to the affected individuals.

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