Amidst the latest coronavirus scare, there have been numerous claims circulating online. Once such claim was: “The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised people to use contactless payments instead of cash to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission”.
However, when fact check was carried out, it was revealed that the WHO clarified later that the statement was misinterpreted. This was not actually a coronavirus-specific guidance, and the organization has not issued any official warnings about cash handling. But the question here is – can cash handling put you at risk of coronavirus (COVID-19)? Here’s what you should know!
Connecting The Dots…
As per the WHO, novel coronavirus may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. Furthermore, WHO has advised that if you think a surface may be infected, clean it with a simple disinfectant.
According to a new study from National Institutes of Health, one may get the virus after touching infected objects/surfaces.
Both theoretically and practically, nonporous as well as porous surfaces can transfer infections. However, porous surfaces (paper, fabrics etc.) are less likely to carry infections as compared to nonporous surfaces (glass, metal, etc.) due to having minute spaces that absorb the infected droplets thus limiting the spread of the virus.
How Can Cash Act As A Vehicle Of Virus?
Here is how cash can act as a medium of virus transfer from one person to other:
– An infected person coughs into his hands
– Handles cash without following hand hygiene
– The virus gets transferred and stays on the paper money
– A healthy person receives this cash
– Touches his eyes/nose/mouth without following hand hygiene
– Healthy person gets infected
– The cash is likely to pass further and the cycle continues
1. Though there are no clear cut guidelines on this, cash handling may act as a significant source of spread of infection.
2. Any cash exchange will also increase contact among people and involve visiting and using an ATM, thus breaching social distancing, which may again increase the risk of infection.
3. Coins can transmit viruses more than paper money as it is a nonporous surface (metal).
What’s The Way Out?
-Switch to online payment modes
-Avoid the use of cash (even cards)
-Wash your hands often
-Keep a sanitiser handy while handling cash
Stay alert, don’t panic.
1. Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19). World Health Organization (WHO). https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses
2. Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1. https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMc2004973
3. RBI Press release as on March 16, 2020. https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/PressRelease/PDFs/PR206985CFFC80D8FB4308979D9326BB3692AE.PDF