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No, cash does NOT carry coronavirus, says WHO

Mar 9, 2020

The rapid spread of COVID-19, followed by the even faster spread of mass panic and signs of recession calls for much-needed clarity regarding cash and coronavirus.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new illness affects your lungs and airways. It is understood that it spreads from cough droplets and the chances of it being transmitted via traded objects like packages, food or cash is extremely low.

An article published on March 2nd, 2020 by a British daily broadsheet newspaper came under fire after claiming that the World Health Organization was advising people to avoid using cash in fear of spreading coronavirus when on March 9th, WHO issued a statement via MarketWatch informing readers that they were misrepresented.

"We did NOT say that cash was transmitting coronavirus"
"Fadela Chaib, spokespersonWorld Health OrganizationAs quoted by MarketWatch

How low is the risk of coronavirus on cash?

All surfaces can, indeed, carry the virus or any bacteria, but reports that unfairly single out cash raises red flags since all surfaces (including food wrapping, cards, pin pads, mobile phones, banknotes, tables, keyboards, mobile phones and doorknobs) are all equally as risky. Coins, interestingly, are “are actually very bad environments for viruses to survive,” says Dr Christine Tait-Burkard, an expert in infection and immunity.

The International Currency Association (ICA) welcomed the WHO’s retraction of its initial statement and provided it with a list of expert opinions, all confirming that banknotes do not carry coronavirus. Read more here.

The bottom line, is that no dry surface should be feared as a carrier of the virus, but, it is always good advice to wash your hands regularly and avoid putting anything handled publicly in your mouth, eyes or nose.

From WHO

  • On December 31st, 2019, a pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan, China was first reported to the WHO Country Office.
  • On January 30th, 2020, the outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
  • On February 11th, 2020, WHO announced a name for the new coronavirus disease: COVID-19.
  • On March 9th, 2020, WHO issued a statement clarifying that cash is not responsible for transmitting coronavirus.
"if you stick to contactless payments but don’t wash your hands after touching your phone, credit card or a payment terminal, you are still susceptible to potential infection,"
"Michael Knight, assistant professor of medicineAs quoted by CNBC

From NHS (UK)

  • Researchers are racing to find a cure for coronavirus. Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses and treatment aims to relieve symptoms while the body fights the illness.
  • The symptoms of coronavirus include a cough, a high temperature and shortness of breath...But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.
Last Updated: Jan 17, 2024

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