Panic reactions are happening across the world as the new Coronavirus, for which there isn’t yet human immunity, spreads. We are seeing emptier supermarket shelves, an extremely volatile stock market, cancelled events and flights and many other signs of fear spreading even faster than the virus itself.
The medical consensus is that this virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets, primarily when infected persons sneeze, or cough, and the viral droplets then hook onto mucous or saliva of another person to gain a foothold in their cells so the virus can reproduce in that new host body.
The best advice is to regularly sanitise hands and disinfect surfaces, which may have been contaminated by viral droplets, while avoiding, as far as possible, touching one’s nose, eyes or mouth. We know that in close contact with an infected person, such as when shaking hands, or when we touch a doorknob, tabletop or surface previously touched by an infected person, we run a risk of catching the virus.
Since people don’t usually sneeze or cough into their banknotes, and since we all touch dozens of surfaces every day, it is disingenuous to single out cash as a medium of transmission of the virus. Handling cards, mobile devices and touching keypads in public places, not to mention countless other surfaces, can carry an equal risk. What is important is frequent hand sanitising to kill off any viral droplets, given that the virus has a fragile envelope surrounding it which can be readily destroyed through disinfectants.
Professor Raina MacIntyre, the head of the biosecurity programme at the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, supporting the idea that airborne respiratory droplets would be the most common means of transmission for the new corona virus, highlights the fact that the range of objects which can cause an infection when they have a residue of the viral droplets on them would be so broad that to remove all potential sources of infection is simply impossible.
The scapegoating of cash by some agencies and media is an irresponsible piece of pseudo-science
“Like every other object in the universe, physical money has its surfaces,” said Mike Lee, CEO of ATMIA and President of the ATM Security Association. “The scapegoating of cash by some agencies and media is an irresponsible piece of pseudo-science, or bias, because it can distract citizens from the risks of infection on all other surfaces of their daily lives. Let’s all grow up and not arbitrarily insert into this health crisis the phoney old war on cash. It’s not exactly an edifying spectacle to see an epidemic being exploited in this manner.”
ATMIA urges all members and all companies in the industry to take the necessary precautions, especially in terms of regular hand and surface disinfection, but to continue life and business as normal as far as humanly possible.
“This epidemic will surely peak at some time, and then recede, and panic serves no rational purpose,” Lee concluded. “Cash is a vital social service for billions in everyday life, but it’s even more important when there’s a crisis.”