SHOPPERS are being urged to ditch cash and pay with contactless in a desperate bid to fight the spread of coronavirus.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned banknotes could spread the deadly virus from person to person, carrying it on their surface.
It comes as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Britain hit 51 today.
Speaking to the Telegraph, a spokesperson for the World Health Organisation said: "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."
The Bank of England has also encouraged regular hand washing, saying notes "can carry bacteria or viruses".
It is something China is already familiar with, with Banks across the country already starting to disinfect notes and put them in isolation.
It is using Ultraviolet light or high temperatures to sterilise cash before sealing and storing it for 14 days.
What you can do to help in the UK fight against coronavirus
- Follow public health advice on handwashing regularly for at least 20 seconds
- Reduce the impact and spread of misinformation by only relying on trusted sources like the NHS website, and Gov.UK
- Check and follow the latest FCO travel advice when travelling and planning to travel
- Ensure you and your family's vaccinations are up to date to reduce pressures on the NHS
- Checking on vulnerable family, friends and neighbours
- Using NHs 111, pharmacies and GPs responsible, and only go the hospital when you really need to
- Being understanding of the pressures the health and social care systems may be under and receptive to changes
- Accepting that the advice for managing the illness for most people will be self-isolating at home and over the counter medications
- Checking for new advice as the situation changes
It means British notes could also be a hotbed for the bug.
According to Manchester Evening News, research carried out by the London Metropolitan University in 2018 found that £5 and £10 polymer notes already in circulation held eight types of bacteria between them.
That included Listeria – which can cause nausea, diarrhoea and even miscarriages.
One expert from London-based electronic payments provider myPOS said: "Using a contactless card to make transactions is so much safer than handling notes and coins which can hold life-threatening bugs.
"With each note and coin likely to have been touched by thousands of people, you can only imagine how much bacteria they are exposed to – whereas a debit or credit card is easy to keep clean."
It comes after the NHS declared its highest level emergency today.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also revealed his "battle plan" to kill off the deadly bug in the UK, urging Brits to wash their hands thoroughly.
He said: "Wash your hands with soap and hot water for the length of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice."
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