Infection risk when using cash
The coronavirus outbreak has raised the issue of infection risk when using cash in payments. Based on inquiries from the public, Norges Bank has submitted the question to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH).
NIPH answers as follows:
“Based on current knowledge, assessments made by other authorities and our own knowledge summary, there are no indications that using cash as a means of payment represents a risk of spreading COVID-19, nor are there indications that using cash represents slightly higher risk of contact infection than with PIN use. The importance of following the current infection control measures on good hygiene practices in the population should be emphasized. Hygiene measures (good hand and cough hygiene) should be performed frequently by everyone, regardless of knowledge of their own and others' infection status. The measures reduce the risk of indirect transmission that can occur from unclean hands after touching surfaces or objects that may be contaminated by the virus.”
NIPH refers to World Health Organisation (WHO) statements that WHO do not consider the use of cash as representing any risk with regard to COVID-19 infection, but that it is important not to touch the eyes, nose and mouth, so as to prevent any contact transmission and that it is important to wash your hands after handling money.
Furthermore, NIPH refer to Bank for International Settlements (BIS), which in BIS Bulletin No 3 writes as follows: “Scientific evidence suggests that the probability of transmission via banknotes is low when compared to other frequently-touched objects, such as credit card terminals or PIN pads.”
Consequently, there seems to be no foundation for claiming that there is greater risk of infection by touching banknotes and coins than other surfaces recently touched by other people.