COVID-19 Expert Database

Question

Can COVID-19 be spread through money?

Last modified on 28 May 2020

What our experts say

The virus that causes COVID-19 can potentially be spread through money. However, it’s unlikely to cause the COVID-19 illness in humans. A recent study has shown that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on solid surfaces like coins for up to four days and on paper like cash for up to three hours, but the virus was no longer infectious (viable) after that point. There has been no rigorous research to conclude or disprove that COVID-19 can be easily spread through coins and paper money otherwise. Therefore, the risk of catching COVID-19 from the virus sticking to money is very low. However, it is best practice in general to wash your hands and avoid touching your face after touching money. The virus that causes COVID-19 is primarily spread through person-to-person contact, especially if you are in close contact with another person (within about 6 feet or 2 meters). Since we do not yet fully understand all the ways the virus could spread, it would be a good practice to be vigilant with money just as any other potential contaminated surface, and wash your hands with soap after touching it.

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Context and background

Money, including coins and bills, has been for a long time considered a potential way diseases are transmitted from one person to another, although we do not have strong evidence to support that claim. The idea is that germs would “attach” themselves to bills and then be transmitted by traveling along the hand-money-hand route. This can represent a public health risk especially during simultaneous handling of food and money, or when touching money and then touching our face without having washed our hands. The current discussion around money as a potential way of spreading diseases is based on studies that found that several types of bacteria can survive on paper money depending on some factors (type of paper, humidity, etc.). However, no strong evidence exists yet around transmission from contaminated money to our bodies. Some news outlets previously reported that the World Health Organization (WHO) claimed you could contract the virus that causes COVID-19 from coins and banknotes (paper money). However, the WHO clarified and said this claim had been misrepresented; the WHO did not issue any kind of warning or statement about COVID-19 transmission through coins and banknotes. Instead, they have emphasized the importance of washing hands with soap, especially before handling or eating food.

Data

Glossary Terms

Source of the question

Social Media

Country question was sourced from

Mexico

Topics

transmission virus

Does this answer vary depending on where you live?

No

Does this answer vary depending on your race, ethnicity, age, sex or other demographic factors?

No

Resources

  1. How COVID-19 Spreads (U.S. CDC)
  2. The WHO has clarified that they aren’t warning people against using paper money due to coronavirus (Full Fact)
  3. Stability of SARS-CoV-2 in different environmental conditions (The Lancet)
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