Simple advice to avoid catching virus
Dirty banknotes could be spreading the coronavirus and people should consider switching to contactless payments where possible, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Cash can carry "all sorts of bacteria and viruses" and COVID-19 is believed to be able to survive on surfaces for a number of days, the UN health agency says.
"We would advise people to wash their hands after handling banknotes, and avoid touching their face," a spokesperson told the UK Telegraphon Tuesday.
"When possible it's a good idea to use contactless payments."
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China began disinfecting its banknotes in February, just a few weeks after the virus was first detected at a seafood market in Wuhan. South Korea then followed suit when the disease started spreading across the world.
In France, the Louvre museum announced on Wednesday it was no longer accepting cash payments in order to protect its employees from potential transmission.
Workers at the Palace of Versailles and Eiffel Tower are also said to be considering banning cash temporarily.
"Money is very dirty and a vector of bacteria," Andre Sacristin, a union representative at the Louvre said on Wednesday.
"It's hand-to-hand and there are direct physical contacts."
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"That shows how nervous people are during an epidemic," French public health historian Patrick Zylberman said.
He said the fear of getting diseases from money stretched all the way back to the Middle Ages.
Back then, banknotes were cleansed with smoke because it was thought their use contributed to the spread of plague, he said. Egypt also smoked banknotes during a 1940s cholera epidemic, he added.
'DISINFECT YOUR PHONES'
As well as switching to contactless payments, health experts also say people should be disinfecting their mobile phone screens twice a day to avoid catching the virus.
"It is a portable petri dish," Peter Hall, a professor of public health at Canada's University of Waterloo, wrote in The Conversation this week.
"Antibacterial wipes are necessary here, as they generally kill viruses as well," he advised.
"Clean your device at least twice daily, once at lunch and once at dinner time (or linked to another daily routine).
"A recently published study estimates that viruses like COVID-19 may be able to persist for up to nine days on smooth glass and plastic surfaces, like a mobile phone screen."
People in Europe have also been advised to stop greeting each other with kisses and avoid shaking hands.
On Tuesday, a German minister refused to shake chancellor Angela Merkel's hand, prompting awkward laughter at an event in Berlin.
In Italy, where more than 2,500 people have been infected with the virus and 79 people have died, people have been advised to stand at least a metre apart and avoid sharing drinks in cups and bottles.
One of the best things you can do to protect yourself from the virus, however, is simply to wash your hands, according to the Australian Academy of Science.
"Hand hygiene is one of the most important things you can do," Raina MacIntyre, the head of the biosecurity program at the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney, said.
"Just soap and water is enough. You don't need to use hand gel unless you haven't got running water."