Banknotes carry no particular coronavirus risk: German disease expert

A visitor uses a disinfectant placed at the entry of the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany March 11, 2020. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi

BERLIN (Reuters) - Handling banknotes doesn’t pose a particular risk of contracting coronavirus, the head of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases said on Wednesday.

“(Virus) transmission through banknotes has no particular significance,” RKI head Lothar Wieler told Reuters, adding that droplets from infected individuals were the main infection risk.

His remarks appeared to contradict those of World Health Organisation (WHO) officials who have advised people to wash their hands after handling banknotes.

Germany has reported a total of 1,269 confirmed cases, including two deaths. Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that up to 70% of people in Germany are likely to get infected with the virus, which the WHO is now calling a pandemic.

Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Toby Chopra