In order to prevent the spread of novel Coronavirus through cash, SBI Research has suggested the government to examine the possibility of using polymer currency notes, instead of paper currency notes, on the lines of countries like Australia, UK and Canada. Experts say that the virus can spread through currency notes. Hence, it is better to switch to digital mode of transactions. But then, complete avoidance of cash in a country like India is probably not possible. Hence, there is a need for a safer alternative to paper currency notes.
In its ‘Ecowrap’ report dated March 17, 2020, the SBI Research said, “Even if due precautions are taken, yet avoidance of cash usage cannot be avoided
and as such it becomes one of the most easy carrier for spreading any virus. Therefore, immediate steps should be taken to check spreading of any virus through
currency notes. Countries like UK, Australia and Canada have switched to polymer notes to reduce the risk of spreading infections through currency. Therefore, the possibilities of usage of polymer notes in India should also be examined.”
However, for the time being, alternate mode of payments including digital payments should be encouraged.
The SBI Research report cited several research reports showing a connection of currency notes and microorganisms. It noted that a report by Confederation Of All India Traders (CAIT) had indicated that currency notes carry micro-organisms that can cause diseases and infections.
“Experts have warned that several diseases, including urinary and respiratory tract infections, skin infections and recurrent meningitis, are being transmitted through currency notes. They can also contribute to causing septicaemia and toxic shock syndrome,” the report said.
It further noted: “As coronavirus is an infectious disease which may spread by close contact of any person infected with such virus. Evidences suggest that currency notes are a source of infection and dangerous to health, more so because many of the pathogens on them are multi-drug resistant strains.”
Around 300 people have been infected with Coronavirus across India and four people have died.