• Sunday, Jan 17, 2021
  • Last Update : 09:28 am

Coronavirus: Handling cash can also infect you

  • Published at 09:21 pm March 24th, 2020
Photo Mahmud Hossain Opu/DHaka Tribune

Digital financial transactions also pose a risk of getting infected by the deadly virus as people have to touch their credit and debit cards, their phones or a payment terminal in order to use the service

As money is an integral part of our day to day lives, everyday almost everyone handles cash for various purposes. But little do we know that this regular habit of ours can lead to us getting infected with Covid-19, said experts.

They have said that digital financial transactions also pose a risk of getting infected by the deadly virus as people have to touch their credit and debit cards, their phones or a payment terminal in order to use the service. 

They also say that if a person, without proper precautions, handles cash from someone who has the virus, within a particular period of time, can also get contaminated. 

The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) till Tuesday confirmed a total of 39 coronavirus cases in the country.

Covid-19, a new strain of coronavirus, so far has killed more than 16,500 people in over 190 countries and territories, including four in Bangladesh.

When contacted, Dr Mohammad Mushtuq Husain, consultant for the National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) and former principal scientific officer at the IEDCR, said: “Taka notes are a medium for bacteria and viruses to spread because a paper note travels through many dirty places and several hands before it eventually arrives to you. 

"It may contain coronavirus as well as other viruses. If a taka note, after being used and touched by a coronavirus patient, comes in contact with someone who doesn't have the virus, there is a possibility that he/she might get infected."

"Similarly, in this case, using credit and debit cards is also risky as the card holder has to touch buttons of specific machines to make a payment or to withdraw cash since the machines are also used by other people.

"Avoiding financial transactions is not possible and so everyone should wash their hands before and after handling cash or cards and refrain from touching their eyes, nose and mouth to stop the virus from spreading further," he added. 

Research shows that paper notes are a source of infection and are a threat to human health as many of the strains of pathogens, including several bacteria and viruses that they carry, are multi-drug-resistant.

Dr Mohammad Mushtuq Husain said: "Paper bills may contain both bacteria and microorganisms."

Moreover, those who entered Bangladesh in recent months are exchanging foreign currencies, including paper money from severely coronavirus affected countries, to taka without maintaining any safety measures. 

In China, banks were ordered to disinfect paper money before issuing it to the public in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, said CNBC on February 27. 

Meanwhile, Dr Saif Ullah Munshi, professor at the virology department of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), said: "There is no high chance of coronavirus spreading through taka notes. But there is a possibility of that happening.

"We don’t need to give up using paper notes in this situation. But we have to do two things to be safe from the virus. First, we can't count notes by using our saliva and second, we have to wash our hands after handling cash."

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