Can Coronavirus Spread Through Using Money?

  • 2 months   ago
  • Recent studies indicate that the virus rests on surfaces for long and could get transmitted when they are touched
  • The SARS-CoV-2 (virus) can be detected up to four hours on copper and up to 24 hours on cardboard




The rapid worldwide spread of the novel coronavirus (covid-19) has raised concerns over how soon it can transmit to humans through surfaces. The fear of using currency notes--the most preferred form of monetary transactions in India--is one of them.

Recent studies indicate that the deadly virus rests on surfaces for long and could get transmitted when they are touched. In that case, currency notes also carry the risk of transmission. However, there is not much scientific evidence on how long the virus stays on currency notes.

According to scientists from the US-based National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Princeton University, and University of California, the SARS-CoV-2 (virus) can be detected up to four hours on copper and up to 24 hours on cardboard. It lasts longer for at least six days on plastic and stainless steel.

However, the study found that though it stays on surfaces for days, the viral load decreases within a few days. This is because viruses can only multiply inside a living cell and degrade on their own if they are left untouched.

“When the virus load decreases, it means its capacity to cause infection also goes down. But, since it does stay on surfaces, we suggest people must wash their hands frequently with soap and water after they handle cash and not touch their faces at all or rub their eyes," said Dr Abdul Gaffur, infectious diseases expert at Apollo Hospitals, Chennai.

"Washing your hands is the key to keep yourself safe," he added.

Experts suggest that more caution must be exercised while handling coins as the virus could rest on it for longer than currency notes. The use of gloves and alcohol based sanitizers (70% alcohol) is advisable for people who have to frequently handle cash, for instance shopkeepers, but even in that case, it is advised, that they must not touch their face and dispose of the gloves safely after use.

Cash management companies are sure that using cash is safe and they have been taking enough steps to ensure that using currency notes does not lead to the transmission of the infection.

According to CMS Info Systems' senior vice president Anush Raghavan, the company ensures that vehicles carrying cash are regularly sanitized, people handling cash wear masks and ATMs are sanitized before and after they are used.

CMS Info Systems is a cash management firm and represents the movement of 45-50% cash in the country, including loading of cash, replenishment of cash into ATMs, sorting currency and helping banks to sort cash flows across branches.

“Every currency is processed and sorted through machine, with very little human touch," Raghavan said. “There is no scientific evidence to this (that using cash is unsafe as it carries the risk of transmission of covid-19" he said, adding that they have urged the central and the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) to issue a statement that using cash is safe.

Meanwhile, the government and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have been urging citizens to switch to digital payments and avoid social contact, thereby, reducing the chance of transmission of covid-19.

The RBI has also urged citizens to increase their use of electronic payment methods so that their exposure to crowded places reduces.

Source: Live Mint