Use of gloves in healthcare and non-healthcare settings in the context of the COVID 19 pandemic

Technical report
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European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Use of gloves in healthcare and non-healthcare settings in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. ECDC: Stockholm; 2020.

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This document aims to provide scientific evidence and guidance for healthcare settings and the public on using gloves as a preventive measure during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wearing gloves outside the context of COVID-19 for personal protection and mandated by relevant regulations in occupational settings such as in industrial applications or in the food or pharmaceutical industry to avoid contamination of products is outside the scope of this document.

Executive summary

Key messages

In the community

  •  There is currently insufficient evidence to recommend the regular use of gloves as a preventive measure in the context of COVID-19 to the public and to people in most occupations.
  • Use of gloves in the community may lead to the misconception that hand hygiene practices can be neglected.
  • Regular use of gloves may confer the risk of dermatological side effects.
  • The generation of waste from unnecessary glove use causes environmental damage.

In healthcare settings

  • The use of medical gloves is recommended as part of standard precautions to reduce the risk of contamination of healthcare workers’ hands with blood and other body fluids including contact with non-intact skin and mucous membranes.
  • When indicated, use of medical gloves is recommended as part of contact precautions, to reduce the risk of pathogen dissemination to the patient’s environment, to other patients and for the protection of healthcare workers.
  • Taking into consideration the currently available types of gloves for use in healthcare settings, extended use, decontamination and reuse of single-use medical gloves is discouraged.
  • In the event of shortages, single-use medical gloves should be prioritised for use in healthcare settings.

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