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ECONOMY

‘No significant risk’ of catching coronavirus from Euro notes

There is no significant risk of catching the coronavirus from euro banknotes, the European Central Bank said on Tuesday, citing lab tests that showed the germs survived far longer on other surfaces.

'No significant risk' of catching coronavirus from Euro notes
Photo: AFP
Cash is still widely used in the 19-nation eurozone but many shops and businesses have asked customers to switch to cards or contactless payments to avoid handling bills possibly touched by an infected person.

In a blog post, ECB executive board member Fabio Panetta said tests by European labs showed that the survival rate of coronaviruses is “10 to 100 higher” on a stainless steel surface, like a door handle, than on euro banknotes in the first few hours after contamination.

“Other analyses indicate that it is much more difficult for a virus to be transferred from porous surfaces such as cotton banknotes than from smooth surfaces like plastic,” Panetta said.

Euro notes are printed on pure cotton-fibre paper, which helps make them resistant to wear and tear.

“Overall, banknotes do not represent a particularly significant risk of infection compared with other kinds of surface that people come into contact with in daily life,” Panetta wrote.

In China, the central bank announced in February that it was using ultraviolet rays to disinfect banknotes in a bid to curb the outbreak.

Panetta's blog did not mention whether any tests had been done into the contamination risks when using euro coins.

More than 340 million people across the continent use the euro currency.

Cash remains the dominant mode of payment for eurozone consumers, the ECB said, accounting for three quarters of transactions.

It is especially popular in large countries like Germany, France and Spain.

Demand for cash has been “less predictable” during the coronavirus crisis, Panetta said, with some people hoarding money at home while others are spending less because of the lockdowns.

During the lockdown, France accelerated plans to push up to limit for contactless card payments to €50.

 

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COVID-19

France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

France's public health body outlined how Covid-19 rules changed starting on February 1st, including an end to compulsory self-isolation after a positive test result.

France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

Starting on February 1st, Covid rules relaxed in France as the country brought an end to compulsory isolation for those who test positive for the virus.

However, those travelling from China to France will still be required to agree to a random screening upon arrival and to isolate in the case of a positive Covid-19 test result. Travellers aged 11 and over coming from China must also provide a negative test result (less tan 48 hours) prior to boarding and those aged six and over must agree to wear a mask on board flights. These regulations – which was set to last until January 31st – is set to remain in place until February 15th.

The French public health body (The Direction générale de la santé or DGS)  announced the change on Saturday in a decree published in the “Journal Officiel” outlining the various ways the body will loosen previous coronavirus restrictions.

READ MORE: What Covid rules and recommendations remain for visiting France?

Those who were in contact with someone who tested positive – ie a contact cases – will also no longer be required to take a test, though the public health body stressed that both testing after contact and isolating after receiving a positive test remain recommended.

Previously, even asymptomatic people who had been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 were required to test on the second day after being notified that they were a “contact-case”.

These changes took effect on February 1st.

READ MORE: What changes in France in February 2023?

The DGS also said that website SI-DEP, which records test results, will remain in operation until June 30th, however starting in February it will only collect personal data with the express permission of the patient.

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Additionally, the French government announced that sick leave procedures for people with Covid-19 would return to normal starting February 1st – this means that those who test positive for Covid-19 now also have the three-day wait period before daily sick benefits are required to be paid, as is usually the case. Previously, people with Covid-19 could expect daily sick benefits to begin at the start of their sick leave period (arrêt maladie in French).  

READ MORE: How sick leave pay in France compares to other countries in Europe

Covid tests are still available on walk-in basis from most pharmacies are are free to people who are fully vaccinated and registered in the French health system. Unvaccinated people, or visitors to France, have to pay up to a maximum of €22 for an antigen test of €49 for a PCR test. 

If you recently tested positive for Covid-19 in France – or you suspect you may have contracted Covid-19 – you can find some information for how to proceed here.

In explaining the changes that began at the start of February, the French public health body also noted a drop in Covid-19 infections in the past month. As of January 30th, approximately 3,800 people in France had tested positive in the previous 24 hours for the coronavirus – which represents a decrease from the averages of 20,000 new cases per day about one month ago.

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