The World Health Organization (WHO) is advising people to not use paper tender and to use as many cashless options as possible to help contain the spread of the coronavirus, according to reports.
Officials with WHO say that while cash isn’t more or less likely to spread the disease, it can carry the virus just like door handles and hand railings, and can spread it on contact.
“We know that money changes hands frequently and can pick up all sorts of bacteria and viruses,” a WHO spokesman said. “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.”
The Louvre, a popular attraction in Paris, has stopped taking cash in a move to encourage employees to come back to work. In China, banks are using high temperatures and ultraviolet lights to help with the disinfection of banknotes. After that, the cash is stored and sealed for up to two weeks before going back into public circulation.
There are more cases of the virus occurring around the world every day. There have been 60 cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). There have been six deaths in the U.S. so far.
The best way to avoid getting infected by the virus is to adopt the same behaviors as when trying to avoid the flu, by staying away from people who are sick and practicing good hygiene.
People are advised to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, especially after eating or using the restroom. Also, the CDC advises using disinfectant wipes to clean things like shopping cart handles when out in public.