Coronavirus banknotes: Could coronavirus be spread via banknotes?

Coronavirus fears have intensified this week, as cases start to skyrocket in the UK. Concern among officials has focussed on in-country transmission, as just last week the virus established a foothold in Italy and rapidly replicated.

As coronavirus has continued its tour through the UK, authorities have stepped up calls for increased personal hygiene vigilance.

Public Health England (PHE) said people should ensure they are regularly and thoroughly washing their hands for at least 20 seconds at a time to prevent infection.

PHE has also advised people to keep their distance from suspected sufferers, as the main way it spreads is via droplets of bodily fluids.

People release droplets into the air when they sneeze or cough, and they remain suspended until someone else breathes them in.


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Although the aerosol method is a virus’ core transmission mechanism, it can also spread through physical contact.

One risk is that the virus enters the body after people get it on their hands, as it sticks to a range of surfaces.

Authorities are currently unclear as to how long coronavirus can survive on different surfaces, but they have identified where people could contract COVID-19.

The virus is surprisingly versatile, but the amount of it which survives often varies depending on the item.

Could coronavirus be spread via banknotes?

COVID-19 can spread as long as the responsible virus, SARS-CoV-2, is able to make contact with a surface or person.

Ultimately this means the virus can spread via banknotes, although according to experts, the chances of contracting it from currency are low.

Dr Christine Tait-Burkard, a research fellow and expert in infection at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute said people would not contract COVID-19 from a note unless “someone is using a banknote to sneeze in”.

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She said: “Coins are actually very bad environments for viruses to survive.”

Dr Tait-Burkard also confirmed the chances of contracting the virus from an inanimate object are low, due to reduced concentrations.

She said: “The amount of virus that is potentially on an inanimate object is usually very small.

“Your respiratory system is very good at filtering out viruses.”

Chinese authorities started disinfecting banknotes as part of their efforts to contain COVID-19 this year.

The People’s Bank of China took to destroying and cleaning potentially infected notes earlier last month.

A press release from the bank said all banks would now disinfect cash under ultraviolet light and store it for 14 days before releasing it to customers.

Authorities also took to cleaning other commonly touched surfaces, including elevator buttons and door handles.

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