U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention experts believe that COVID-19 spreads primarily from person to person, between people who are within around six feet of each other and through droplets produced by a sick person’s cough or sneeze.

The WHO also says that “the disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales,” and recommends keeping more than three feet away from a sick person.

The Bank of England says: “Like any other surface that large numbers of people come into contact with, notes can carry bacteria or viruses. However, the risk posed by handling a polymer note is no greater than touching any other common surfaces such as handrails, doorknobs or credit cards.”

Earlier this month a newspaper report claimed the World Health Organization (WHO) had said banknotes may be spreading the coronavirus, so people should try to use contactless payments instead. But it was then reported that the WHO denied it had said cash was transmitting the coronavirus, and that it had been “misrepresented” – so go figure.

‘WHO did NOT say banknotes would transmit COVID-19, nor have we issued any warnings or statements about this.’— WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib

However, logic would suggest that most notes and coins will have previously been handled by large numbers of people (though ATMs quite often dispense notes that are either brand new or little used), so if you are worried, paying with a contactless card where possible is probably the way to go.

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COVID-19 mainly spreads through droplets released into the air when someone who’s gotten infected coughs or sneezes. But it can also be contracted through the surfaces we come into contact with, says Dr. Ellen Foxman, an assistant professor in Yale’s Department of Laboratory Medicine.

“It really can stay on surfaces for like, several days, including things you touch, like cash,” Foxman explains.

Here are some Preventive Measures

1. Clean your hands regularly with an alcohol-based hand rub, or wash them with soap and water.

2. Clean surfaces regularly with disinfectant – for example kitchen benches and work desks.

3. Educate yourself about COVID-19. Make sure your information comes from reliable sources.

4. Avoid traveling if you have a fever or cough, and if you become sick while on a flight, inform the crew immediately. Once you get home, make contact with a health professional and tell them about where you have been.

5. Cough or sneeze into your sleeve, or use a tissue. Dispose of the tissue immediately into a closed rubbish bin, and then clean your hands.

6. Take extra precautions to avoid crowded areas if you are over 60 years old, or if you have an underlying condition.

7. If you feel unwell, stay at home and call your doctor or local health professional.

8. If you are sick, stay at home, and eat and sleep separately from your family, use different utensils and cutlery to eat.

9. If you develop shortness of breath, call your doctor and seek care immediately.

10. It’s normal and understandable to feel anxious, especially if you live in a country or community that has been affected. Find out what you can do in your community. Discuss how to stay safe with your workplace, school or place of worship.

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