Cash is not a high coronavirus risk, but do we need to be immunised against misinformation?
As COVID-19 remains front and centre in our lives, the information and reporting of the virus continues to grow, with conflicting headlines dominating our news feeds.
This week following a published research report in Virology Journal, some media outlets have misrepresented cash as being a vehicle to spread the virus, attacking currency with headlines such as ‘Coronavirus May Stay for Weeks on Banknotes and Touchscreens', published in Bloomberg news.
The report in question conducted in Victoria by the CSIRO and the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ADCP) has suggested that the virus could potentially survive for 28 days, but only under very specific ‘virus friendly’ conditions.
Conducted in a highly controlled laboratory setting, with no light, fixed temperatures and humidity levels, testing was carried out to determine the survival time of the COVID-19 virus on various materials including glass, stainless steel, vinyl, cotton and paper and polymer banknotes. These surfaces were then incubated at exactly 20°C, 30°C and 40°C without any exposure to sunlight or other natural factors, situations which would never occur in the real world.
Subsequent media reporting on the newly released Australian research has been highly criticised by Professor Ron Eccles, former director Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University, who believes that the virus only remains on surfaces in our everyday environment for a matter of hours. Professor Eccles vocalised that any connotation the virus could survive for 28 days was causing “unnecessary fear in the public”.
Along with Professor Ron Eccles ardent dismissal, the lead author of the CSIRO research, Shane Riddell also confirmed that “real world results would likely be shorter than what we were able to show” in the study.
Despite the conflicting opinions on the research, the value of the work yet again highlights the importance of hand hygiene, CSIRO’s Professor Trevor Drew reiterating the trusted expert advice in preventing the spread of COVID-19, “Wash your hands regularly. Don’t put your hands near your mouth or eyes because the virus can also infect you through the mucus membranes in the eyes,” he said. “Keep washing your hands or use disinfectant wipes or a spray and of course people who are responsible for the cleaning of things like public transport, they have to keep doing their job and it really just reinforces how important that role is.”
Further supporting the minimal risk that cash presents to the public, The World Health Organization, along with The Robert Koch Institute, The European Central Bank, the Bank of International Settlements, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, the Bank of Canada and the South African Reserve Bank have all confirmed that cash carries no significance in relation to viral transmission.
In this current time of crisis, and in a race to find a vaccine for COVID-19, we must remember to protect the freedom of making cash payments, and in turn support the most vulnerable in our communities. As New Zealand’s leading secure cash management provider, Armaguard Group is trusting the experts by taking significant steps to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, along with continuing to safeguard the essential access of cash for everyone.