Coronavirus masks

Shoppers urged to use contactless cards to avoid coronavirus-contaminated coins and bank notes

People should wash their hands after touching cash

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Shoppers run the risk of being infected with coronavirus via contaminated bank notes, experts have warned.

The World Health Organisation is reportedly advising people to avoid handling cash and instead use contactless cards, as doing so could “reduce the risk of transmission”.

Bank card
Shoppers could ‘reduce the risk’ of spreading coronavirus using contactless cards, the WHO said (Credit: Pexels)

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A WHO spokesperson told The Telegraph: “We know that money changes hands frequently and can pick up all sorts of bacteria and viruses.

“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.”

Similarly, the Bank of England admitted that bank notes could “carry bacteria or virus” just “like any other surface”.

Coronavirus masks
A Bank of England spokesperson said the UK’s polymer notes poses ‘no greater’ risk than any other common surface (Credit: Newscom/Cover Images)

But according to Yahoo Finance, a spokesperson for the central bank said the risk posed by Britain’s polymer notes is “no greater” than that of any other common surface, like doorknobs and handrails.

It comes amid warnings from the Chief Medical Officer for England that the UK is likely to see “some deaths” in the coming months as a “significant number” of people catch the flu-like coronavirus.

It would also be advisable to use contactless payments to reduce the risk of transmission.

The UK Government’s Chief Medical Advisor, Chris Whitty, said the NHS and businesses should work under the “sensible” assumption that as much as 20 per cent of Britain’s work force could be off sick at once.

Professor Whitty said, as reported by The Sun: “It is almost certain there will be more cases, probably a lot of cases, and we would expect some deaths.

“It’s when it’s going from person to person to person and then we pick it up – that’s what we mean by community transmission.

“It is likely that will be happening, if not now, but soon. I think it’s likely to be happening at the moment, not definite.”

Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England
CMO Chris Whitty said there will ‘probably a lot of cases’ (Credit: Public Health England / YouTube)

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Reports last month suggested that as many as half a million people in the UK could die from the virus.

But in his speech this week outlining the Government’s action plan, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was eager to reassure concerned Brits as he insisted that for the vast majority of people who contract it, coronavirus will be a “mild disease”.

The PM explained on Tuesday (March 3 2020), in a speech broadcast on This Morning: “For the overwhelming majority of people who contract the virus, this will be a mild disease from which they will speedily and fully recover, as we’ve already seen.”

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