People should wash their hands after handling cash and try to use contactless payments instead, the World Health Organization says.
- Cash could be spreading the novel coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization.
- The WHO told Business Insider that people should wash their hands after handling cash, especially before eating.
- People should use contactless payments instead, the WHO told The Telegraph.
- In February, China said it would destroy cash from areas highly affected by the coronavirus in an effort to slow the spread.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Cash could be contributing to the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization.
The WHO told The Telegraph that the coronavirus could remain on money for days after being exposed to it and that people should avoid touching their face after handling cash.
"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."
In a statement to Business Insider, a WHO representative said people "should wash their hands or use a hand sanitizer after handling money, especially if they are about to eat or before handling food."
The Mayo Clinic says that viruses tend to last longer on hard surfaces like plastic and metal than on soft surfaces like fabric — US dollars are a blend of paper and fabric — but that factors like temperature and humidity affect how long a virus sticks around on surfaces.
China said in February that it would destroy and disinfect cash from hospitals, buses, and markets in areas severely affected by the coronavirus.
The UK-based Telegraph reported that the Bank of England said it would not follow China's plan and disinfect cash.
The US Treasury Department did not respond to a request for comment.