In response to the swine flu epidemic, the Mexico unit of Visa Inc. has aired a radio advertisement that said cash passes through more hands than cards do.

"In these moments when your health is the most important, pay with your Visa credit or debit card," the ad says. "That way you can prevent contact with cash and you can protect your health."

Sergio De Anda, the marketing director at Visa Mexico, said, "We hope consumers will keep in mind the hygienic benefits of using cards instead of cash."

Grupo Financiero Banorte SAB, Mexico's largest publicly traded lender, invited customers to bank online and over the telephone instead of visiting its branches.

So far, 56 people have died in Mexico from the H1N1 virus out of 2,059 confirmed cases.

The Mexican government has asked citizens to avoid crowds, wear masks, wash their hands frequently and wipe down work areas and home surfaces with cleaning supplies.

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