Wednesday , December 1 2021

Coronavirus: Panic as WHO says Banknotes causes Spread, CBN eyes Alternative Payment

Sequel to the reports on banknotes aiding the faster spread of coronavirus, the Central Bank of Nigeria has advised Nigerians to embrace alternative method of payment during this period.

The new coronavirus spreads through respiratory droplets. That means when an infected person coughs, infected droplets can land on items people will later touch, spreading the infection further. But depending on temperature and humidity, some surfaces, like credit cards, bank notes and coins, can be better homes for these droplets than the more porous surface.

Business Remarks investigations revealed that, as a result of this, nations have started putting measures in place to curb the spread in their countries.

The World Health Organization said public should exercise care when handling potentially infectious banknotes. Asked whether banknotes could be spreading coronavirus, a WHO spokesman replied: “Yes it’s possible and it’s a good question. We know that money changes hands frequently and can pick up all sorts of bacteria and viruses and things like that.

“We would advise people to wash their hands after handling banknotes, and avoid touching their face. When possible it’s a good idea to use contactless payments.”

The Nigeria Apex Bank, CBN Director of Corporate Communications, Mr Isaac Okoroafor, gave the advice in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

“In times like this, it is advisable for Nigerians to adopt alternative payment methods such as electronic transfers, internet banking, USSD, etc, to avoid the disease – Covid-19.

“The Naira note is one surface that people touch every day. It will be wise for us to wash hands after handling money, especially if you are eating or touching food,” he said.

Okoroafor said these alternative payment methods with the benefits, were well developed and worked well.

He said: ”Its efficiency has minimised liquidity, settlement, systemic credit and operational risks which were inherent in financial transactions.

“It is secured, reliable, accessible, prompt and cost effective to meet all users’ needs. Nigerians should use it.’’

Further investigations carried out by Business Remarks showed that Chinese banks have begun sterilizing money before giving it to customers in an attempt to lower the risk of transmission. Cash coming from hospitals and other infection areas will be sent to the central bank instead of being recirculated in society. This potentially-infected cash may even be destroyed.

While the Chinese government told lenders to disinfect and isolate banknotes in a dry place for seven days as part of the battle against the virus, the Bank of Korea (BOK) announced that, it is also putting currency notes through a high-heat ‘laundering’ process to get rid of any traces of the virus before releasing them for circulation.

The routine process for incinerating dirty notes has been tightened in order to combat the outbreak in the country.

Banknotes, coronavirus

Reacting to WHO’s statement, the Confederation of All India Traders (CIT) has urged their Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to order “a larger investigation” to assess the chances of diseases spreading via currency notes.

CIT suggested that the government should promote digital payments coupled with incentives and benefits to encourage more people adopt and accept the alternate mode of payments in the larger interest of health of their country.

READ ALSO: CBN sanctions GTBank, UBA, Zenith Bank N175million for contraventions in 2019

Also the United State has confirmed through a spokeswoman that Federal Reserves has begun holding dollars it receives from Asia before recirculating them amid concerns over the spreading coronavirus outbreak.

For starters, COVID-19 doesn’t spread by penetrating the skin on your hands, Michael Knight, assistant professor of medicine at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, tells CNBC Make It.

Given that, the best measure you can take to prevent the spread of germs is hand-washing. If your job requires that you handle money (or any other potentially contaminated surface), it’s important to be diligent about washing your hands and not touching your face, Knight says. If you want to wear disposable gloves, it’s still a good idea to change them and wash your hand between touching money and preparing food, according to the New York Department of Health. Otherwise you’re just spreading germs with your gloves instead of your hands.

According to CDC, you can also clean and disinfect anything else that you tend to touch a lot using a regular cleaning spray or wipe.

COVID-19, has infected more than 100,000 people and caused at least 3,410 deaths worldwide, according to data complied by Johns Hopkins University. In the United States there are currently at least 233 cases of COVID-19 and 14 deaths in Washington and California.

About Bukola Olanrewaju

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