With the spread of the novel coronavirus strain COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) is advising everybody to avoid using banknotes as they could be used to transmit the virus from one person to another.
After an analysis of 22 different studies on coronavirus strains such as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and the current COVID-19 published on the Journal of Hospital Infection, it is believed that these viruses remain infectious on contaminated objects such as credit cards, doorknobs, handrails, and the like at room temperature for as long as nine days.
That said, the WHO warns that paper cash could carry the highly-infectious bacteria for several days just as much as other common surfaces, thus reminding everyone to use contactless payments if possible, to halt the spread of the disease.
According to global health authorities, although it is not yet clear if whether the new coronavirus strain behaves that way, and the risk is lower than human-to-human contact, it would still be best to avoid using cash to reduce the risk of transmission.
Say no to “dirty” money
Knowing that the coronavirus can spread through droplets and contaminated objects which come in direct contact with the infected patients, various countries are stepping up their efforts to stop the spread of the killer virus.
China and Korea, for example, began disinfecting and isolating used cash by using ultraviolet light or high-temperature sterilization prior to sealing it and storing it for up to 14 days before recirculating it.
The WHO also reminds people to wash their hands more often especially after handling paper money and being in public places and minimize physical contact with others.
According to them, people should focus mostly on their hygiene and maintaining a safe distance of at least one meter from other people especially those who are showing the signs and symptoms of the disease.
Medical experts are also reminding everybody that good hygiene is key and that cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces you mostly touch is just as important.
Although there is little to no risk contamination from letters and parcels from abroad because the virus cannot survive for days on inanimate objects, it is still better if people could avoid it.