Coronavirus: WHO refutes claims it said cash could carry virus

UPDATED: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has set the record straight on an alleged warning attributed to them stating banknotes may be a potential way to spread the coronavirus.

Earlier this month, it was reported by a UK-based publication that banknotes contaminated with the virus could aid in the spread of the disease.

“We know that money changes hands frequently and can pick up all sorts of bacteria and viruses,” a WHO spokesman was quoted in 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.”

However, a WHO spokesperson has now clarified the organisation did not specifically say bank notes could spread the virus.

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“WHO did NOT say banknotes would transmit COVID-19, nor have we issued any warnings or statements about this,” Fadela Chaib said in an email to MarketWatch, who sought clarification on the matter.

“We were asked if we thought banknotes could transmit COVID-19 and we said you should wash your hands after handling money, especially if handling or eating food.”

The World Health Organisation has warned the coronavirus could spread through bank notes. Source: Getty Images

A spokesperson for the Bank of England told The Telegraph in early March cash could carry viruses.

The risk of handling an infected bank note is no more than touching a surface such as handrails, doorknobs or credit cards, the bank said.

In February this year, China said it would be destroying bank notes in areas of high concentration of the coronavirus, while money in ‘at-risk’ areas would be sanitised and quarantined before being released back into circulation.

China previously told lenders to disinfect and store banknotes in a dry area for seven days as part of the battle to contain the virus, a local newspaper reported on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

The Beijing branch of China’s banking and insurance regulator (CBIRC) did not specify how the notes would be cleaned, but encouraged banks to increase the frequency of disinfection of public places, such as counters and public appliances such as password-entry devices.

– with Reuters, AAP

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