Question & Answer

Can wearing gloves prevent infection with COVID-19 in the general public?

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  • Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, there has been an increase in the use of disposable gloves or latex gloves in public spaces, such as shops and on public transport.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend wearing gloves in public as an effective way of preventing COVID-19 infection.
  • The Health Service Executive (HSE) suggests washing your hands regularly offers more protection against contracting COVID-19 than wearing gloves does.
  • Gloves do not provide complete protection against contamination; pathogens (things that can cause an infection) can get onto your hands through defects in the glove or your hands can become contaminated when you remove the gloves (WHO-Glove-Use)
  • Using personal protective equipment such as gloves where they are not needed can result in shortages, and this will affect health-care workers who need to wear them.
  • Gloves are recommended to be worn for two main reasons:
    • To reduce the risk of health-care workers’ hands becoming contaminated with blood and other body fluids
    • To reduce the risk of germs spreading to the environment and from health-care workers to the patient and vice versa, as well as from one patient to another.
  • To protect yourself and others from coronavirus, please follow public health advice and wash your hands properly and often.
  • The major transmission route for COVID-19 is via droplets generated when a person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can be breathed in by, or land on others nearby – this is why following the advice on physical distancing is so important.

Things to Remember


  • Lead Researcher: Dr Sonja Khan, HRB Clinical Research Facility, University Hospital Galway and NUI Galway
  • Reviewed by: Professor Declan Devane, School of Nursing and Midwifery, HRB-Trials Methodology Research Network, Evidence Synthesis Ireland & Cochrane Ireland, NUI Galway.
  • Evidence Advisor: Professor Susan Smith, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and General Practitioner in Inchicore Family Doctors, Dublin.
  • Evidence Advisor: Anne Daly, PPI Ignite, NUI Galway.
  • Journalist Advisor: Dr Claire O’Connell, Contributor, The Irish Times.