WHO warns cash could spread coronavirus, backs contactless

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that use of coins and banknotes could be spreading coronavirus.

In a statement to the BBC, a spokesperson for WHO said: “We know that money changes hands frequently and can pick up all sorts of bacteria and viruses – we would advise people to wash their hands after handling banknotes, and avoid touching their face.”

They also advised shoppers to use contactless payments as an alternative to reduce the risk of transmission.

At present, the Bank of England has said it is not planning to restrict the flow of cash in the UK economy.

In a statement provided to the Telegraph, the UK’s central bank said that “the risk posed by a polymer note is no greater than touching any other common surface, such as handrails, doorknobs or credit cards”.

Health authorities have warned that bacteria and viruses can survive on doorhandles and other surfaces for a number of hours, but it is not yet known how long the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus can survive on surfaces.

The government is advising regular hand washing in an attempt to control person-to-person transmission of the virus.

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