Representative image Photograph:( ANI )
The Reserve Bank of India has “hinted that ‘the currency notes could be carriers of bacteria and viruses including Covid virus’,” according to a statement by CAIT.
The prompt spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus has raised concerns over surface-to-humans transmissions, including through currency notes.
The possible spread of coronavirus through currency notes has been reviving concerns around handling of cash during an epidemic.
Traders’ body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) on Sunday said that in response to the issue around currency notes being possible carriers of viruses included Covid-19, the Reserve Bank of India has “hinted that ‘the currency notes could be carriers of bacteria and viruses including Covid virus’,” according to a statement by CAIT.
The body had written a letter to the Finance Minister Nirmala Sithraman on March 9, 2020, seeking clarity on the issue but the letter was forwarded to the RBI. The latter responded to CAIT on October 3, 2020, over an email, a copy of which was shared by CAIT.
“RBI could not deny the fact and their reply fully indicates that the currency notes do carry viruses and bacteria,” the statement cited CAIT National President B.C. Bhartia and Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal as saying. RBI, however, in its reply to the letter said, “In this (currency notes carrying Covid-19 and other viruses) connection, we inform that the Reserve Bank, in terms of its clean note policy, provides good quality banknotes to the members of the public. With this objective in view, the banknotes received back from circulation are examined and those fit for circulation are reissued while the others (soiled and mutilated) are destroyed so as to maintain the quality of banknotes in circulation.”
RBI in its annual report released on August 29, 2019, had said that value and volume of banknotes in circulation increased by 17 per cent and 6.2 per cent to Rs 21,109 billion and 108,759 million pieces, respectively, during 2018-19.
The World Health Organisation has already advised taking measures to maintain proper hygiene post handling of notes.
(With inputs from agencies)