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By - Raghav Gupta

Social distancing of Currency Notes amid Coronavirus outbreak

The novel Coronavirus outbreak has affected the whole world. No place or sector has been left untouched by the pandemic. Whether it is manufacturing, distribution, retail, or banking, the outbreak has wreaked havoc on everything. It has broken the back of most top economies, a new pandemic inspired theory has started affecting economies in a rather unusual manner. 

Citizens have started abolishing the use of paper currency due to fear of catching Coronavirus (COVID-19) through it. Ordinary people who help paper notes in their hands are now moving towards digital money while in villages and small places many people have adopted the barter system. 

Can infection spread through currency notes?

There is no substantial evidence yet studies show that money may prove to be a transmission medium as it is largely uncontrolled and travels through many hands in an active market. When you are out for shopping and paying in cash, it does not practically matter whether you have washed your hands or not because the money that you will touch is not sanitized. 

Hygiene levels of a community or society also contribute towards the scale of germs banknotes carry. Greenbacks are often carried in very unusual places that could expose them to germs and bacteria.

Most currencies mix a blend of cotton with paper for manufacturing paper notes. Paper has not yet been identified as a carrier of the novel Coronavirus but cotton is a natural fibre that can easily carry virus and bacteria to lengths. 

How to protect yourself when you are outside? 

If you are going out for shopping or any other work that would require you to interact with another person or a frequently touched object than following measures could help you prevent infections-

  1. Maintain social distance with people. Avoid shaking hands and any physical contact.
  2. Try not to touch public objects like doorknobs, counter surfaces, and taps with bare hands.
  3. Wear protective gear like face masks and eye shields.
  4. Avoid using paper currency as it involves physical interaction.
  5. Whenever possible, wash your hands or use a sanitizer after you touch a person or object in public spaces.

Will paper currency lose its value after the pandemic is over?

Paper currency will never lose its value until it is ceased from operations like it was done in India. It is a promissory note that is either issued by the central bank or government of a country. One cannot deny that use of paper currency may decline by big once the pandemic subsides as people would want to exercise more precautionary measures.

Banknotes are extremely popular in developing economies as there are limited methods of payments available. With introduction of digital payment services in such economies, use of bills may fall. People who stash a lot of cash in their homes may also move towards other means of liquid savings.

Everyone is concerned about their health in COVID-19 times and no one would want to do anything that jeopardizes their care and prevention. 

As Coronavirus pandemic subsides, it will be interesting to see whether people change their habit of using paper currency or move to more health optimistic means. The importance of banknotes cannot be denied, but their use can be limited.