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Banknotes may be spreading coronavirus, WHO warns

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised people to use contactless technology instead of cash as banknotes may be spreading coronavirus.

On Tuesday, WHO said the infectious Covid-19 virus could be carried on the surface of banknotes for several days.

“To stop the spread of the disease, people should use contactless payments where possible and wash their hands after handling cash,” a WHO spokesman 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.”

Last month, both China and South Korea began disinfecting and isolating used banknotes as part of their efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

Officials used ultraviolet light or high temperatures to sterilise the bills, then sealed them for 14 days, before releasing them back into circulation.

Coronavirus can be spread through contaminated objects as well as droplets and direct contact with infected patients, the WHO said.

“We know that money changes hands frequently and can pick up all sorts of bacteria and viruses,” a spokesman told the Telegraph.

It is not yet known how long the coronavirus can survive outside the human body.

According to WHO, these surfaces should be avoided.

Banknotes – Banknotes can carry the coronavirus.

Door handles – Touching these is often unavoidable, and a lot of different people may do so, so be mindful of where you are touching the handle and wash your hands frequently to combat this.

Office kitchens – Coffee machines or kettles will be handled by multiple people, so it’s a good idea to use hand sanitiser after doing the tea round.

ATMs – If you’re withdrawing money from a machine, that’s also something that’s going to be touched by many people.

Handrails – Escalators, handrails, guardrails – all will be touched constantly, potentially by thousands of people in a day. If one uses public transport, there’s no way not to touch the handrails. So when you get off, disinfect your hands.

Communal bathroom surfaces – People often blow their noses and spit in the bathroom.

Hospital surfaces – Shaking hands is a frequent transmission route for disease in hospitals, if you are visiting someone in hospital, or have an appointment, wash your hands thoroughly before and after visiting.

Telephones – Less of a problem in the age of smartphones, but if you share an office phone, it is something to consider.

Aeroplane seats – International travel is a risk factor for transmission. Wipe down your seat pre-takeoff.

Here are more recommendations that one can protect themselves from possible infection:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Stay home when you are sick.

Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.