Banks told to hold back currencies for two days

All notes will be recycled only after 48 hours

Unable to find suitable disinfectants for currency notes, banks have been asked to hold back the “inward remitted currencies” in packets for 48 hours before recirculating them. The notes shall be separately wrapped in packets with dates marked on them. These notes shall be recycled only after 48 hours, according to an advisory issued by N. Ajit Krishnan, convener of the State Level Bankers' Committee (SLBC), Kerala.

The advisory was issued on Wednesday after the SLBC “inferred” that currency notes could be a probable source for the spread of COVID-19. The health authorities had informed the committee that the virus could survive on notes for a maximum period of 12 hours.

Incidentally, the State government had announced that currency notes and coins shall be disinfected considering the possibility of virus remaining live on its surface for some time and the exchange of coins and currency notes contributing to the spread of the disease.

“We searched in vain for a suitable method for disinfecting the currency notes. Chemical washing using is not advisable as it will damage the notes. Fumigation could be an option. However, no agency has come forward with a viable method or a process to fumigate the notes, which are stored in the around 100 cash chests of banks across the State. Throwing open the chests, which are high security areas, for fumigation is also a matter of concern,” Mr. Krishnan told The Hindu.

Though it was suggested that the virus cannot survive on currency notes beyond 12 hours, the committee fixed the hold back period as 48 hours as an abundant precaution. While holding back the currencies, the banks would try to issue fresh notes to its customers. The Reserve Bank of India too offered to supply fresh notes, Mr. Krishnan, who is also the general manager of Canara Bank, said.

Coins should also be thus held back in the respective banks before re-circulating them. The SLBC is open for any proposal for disinfecting notes, including fumigation, he said.

The SLBC asked the banks to ensure the safety of its staff by asking them to wear masks, gloves, use sanitisers and practice social distancing.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 3:16:44 AM |

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