Can Banknotes carry coronavirus?


Banknotes may be spreading the new coronavirus so people should try to use contactless payments instead, the World Health Organization has said.

While the primary way to spread coronavirus is via coughing and sneezing, viruses can survive on hard surfaces like coins for days in some cases.

“We know that money changes hands frequently and can pick up all sorts of bacteria and viruses and things like that,” a WHO representative told The Telegraph. “We would advise people to wash their hands after handling banknotes and avoid touching their face.”

The WHO didn’t explicitly say that money specifically is linked to coronavirus, which is also called COVID-19. However, the agency did say it’s “advisable to use contactless payments to reduce the risk of transmission,” the Telegraph reports.

Meanwhile, Addressing the gathering at the launch of “2020- year of Digital Transactions’ promotional campaign, Central Bank Governor Prof. W.D. Lakshman also expressed his views in this regard.

“In the present global setting of the widespread concern over coronavirus outbreak, the World Health Organization has identified banknotes as a possible source of spreading the virus and has requested people to use contactless payments instead. There can be no better endorsement for digital transaction than this WHO concern,” Governor noted.

South Korea’s central banksaid on Friday (Mar 6) it was quarantining bank notes for two weeks to remove any traces of coronavirus and even burning some as part of efforts to stem the outbreak. The Bank of Korea (BOK) said it is also putting currency notes through a high-heat “laundering” process, as it always has, before releasing them for circulation.

“For all cash coming to the central bank from local banks, the Bank of Korea will keep it in a safe for two weeks, given that the virus usually dies out after nine days,” a BOK official told Reuters.