It looks like the Chinese started something…
Following reports that Beijing had “quarantined” dirty cash, the WHO warned on Monday that the virus could survive on banknotes, potentially spreading Covid-19 within communities, and across the world. To reduce the risk of being infected by money, the NGO advised citizens in countries struggling with outbreaks to favor digital payments when possible, the Daily Telegraph reported.
That the WHO is telling the public to avoid cash is hardly a surprise: research has found that coronaviruses have been found to live on surfaces for as long as 9 days.
During the statement, a WHO spokesman referenced a Bank of England study claiming that banknotes “can carry bacteria or viruses” and urged people to wash their hands. Other studies have shown that 90% of US $1 bills had bacteria present, and one Swiss study found that viruses had survive on the faces of Swiss francs for days.
The WHO’s warnings follow the People’s Bank of China last month started disinfecting currency deposited at Chinese banks using ultraviolet light, before quarantining the bills for a week before releasing them back into circulation.
Brits, and their fellow Europeans, should be increasingly careful as the virus spreads across Europe, the WHO warned, via the Telegraph:
“We know that money changes hands frequently and can pick up all sorts of bacteria and viruses,” a spokesman told the Telegraph.
“We would advise people to wash their hands after handling banknotes, and avoid touching their face. When possible, it would also be advisable to use contactless payments to reduce the risk of transmission.”