FAQ on whether the coronavirus can be passed on through banknotes and coins
The Riksbank receives a number of questions about whether one should be worried about handling banknotes and coins, given the potential risk for contagion of the coronavirus.
Can the coronavirus be passed on through banknotes and coins?
The Riksbank receives a number of questions about whether one should be worried about handling banknotes and coins, given the potential risk for contagion of the coronavirus. However, there is no evidence that the coronavirus is passed on by handling banknotes and coins, and according to the Public Health Agency of Sweden, there is no information that people have been infected by handling banknotes or coins. The most important thing to prevent contagion is to follow the Public Health Agency of Sweden guidelines.
A number of studies have been made regarding contagion via banknotes, including an ECB study that concludes that the virus survives a shorter time on the porous surface of a banknote than on, for instance, a door handle. The virus is also more difficult to pass on from porous surfaces.
Cash is still an important means for may people to pay with and it is therefore important that society continues to accept and handle banknotes and coins.
Read more about how to avoid being infected and infect others on The Public Health Agency of Sweden's website.
Summary of studies made of the SARS-COV-2 virus and the risk of infection via banknotes
Several studies have been made of how long the SARS-COV-2 virus survives on various materials and surfaces, in addition to studies examining how infectious the virus is via surfaces. The studies largely show the same result, which is that the virus attaches to surfaces and materials and then survives for a time on these surfaces. The main difference between the studies concerns how long the virus survives. Studies also show that the risk of being infected via banknotes and coins is negligible, with the most important precautions being maintaining good hand hygiene and not touching your face with your fingers without having washed your hands.
The largest studies made were by the ECB and CSIRO (the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) in Australia. Others that have examined the risk of infection are the Robert Koch Institute in Germany and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The ECB and CSIRO conclude that the virus survives on various surfaces. Studies disagree concerning how long the virus survives. According to the ECB, the concentration of virus decreases after only six hours to such a low level that the risk of infection is negligible and the virus is completely absent after two to three days. According to the CSIRO, the virus survives significantly longer and in higher concentrations. In its study, the virus survived up to 28 days on banknotes. The conditions for these studies have been different. The greatest difference is that, in the CSIRO study, the banknotes were kept in a dark, dampness and temperature controlled room, which is a virus-friendly environment. The ECB study better resembled the environment in which banknotes are used.
The Koch Institute in Germany and the ECB have concluded that the risk of being infected by banknotes is negligible. They have demonstrated that the concentration of virus falls to less than 10% when the virus is transferred from a banknote to the fingers. The concentration then falls further when transferred from the fingers to the respiratory system via the nose, mouth or eyes. This is also what the WHO and Public Health Agency of Sweden clearly state in their announcements. The most important precaution is to maintain good hand hygiene and refrain from touching your face.
The Bank of England has also recently carried out a study on how much of the virus can survive on banknotes in the event of a transfer comparable with a cough or sneeze. Their study shows that less than 2% of the virus survives more than six hours after transfer to a banknote.