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Transmission of coronavirus through newspapers, currency possible but unlikely: Experts

While there is limited research on the subject, existing studies indicate that coronavirus can persist on paper surfaces for four to five days.

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New Delhi: While the novel coronavirus has claimed over 14,000 lives and infected more than 3.3 lakh people across the globe, a lot is unknown about the virus. For instance, it is still not known whether the virus can be transmitted through currency notes and newspapers.

Earlier this month the World Health Organization (WHO) had suggested that dirty banknotes may be spreading coronavirus, suggesting that people switch to digital payments instead. However,  no strict advisory has been issued advising people to stop using currency notes altogether.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) also urged Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to order “a larger investigation” to assess the chances of diseases spreading via currency notes in the beginning of March.

Currently, there is limited research on the subject but existing scientific literature indicates that coronavirus can last on paper surfaces for upto four to five days.

Also read: Modi govt assesses chloroquine stock, a potential COVID-19 drug, as it awaits WHO results

Virus can persist on paper for 4-5 days

In a research paper published in the Journal of Hospital Infection last month, scientists from Germany reviewed 22 studies to understand how long various strains of coronavirus including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus and COVID-19 can persist on different surfaces.

The study revealed that at room temperature, novel coronavirus can persist for up to four to five days on paper.

The researchers, further, noted that the virus can survive on metal surfaces for up to five days and up to nine days on plastic surfaces. However, unlike paper, these surfaces can be sanitised with liquid disinfectants. 

Dr Alok Lodh of multi-speciality clinics HCL Healthcare told ThePrint that paper products like newspapers and currency notes, which change many hands, can bring the virus to our homes.

T. Jacob John, professor of virology at Christian Medical College, Vellore, also agreed that paper products have a risk of spreading the disease.

However, he added, that amongst all the scenarios through which the virus can spread, transmission through newspapers is the least probable.

“If a newspaper delivery boy has the infection, and decides to sneeze on a paper, then yes, the virus could get transmitted to your home,” said John.

“However, this is very unlikely. I have myself not stopped newspaper subscriptions,” he added.

John also said that while there is no antidote to the virus, the spread of the pathogen can be curbed by simply washing hands with soaps after handling the morning newspaper or currency notes.

Also read: Modi govt is using two laws to tackle coronavirus spread. But one of them needs changes


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  1. Please change the headline of the article as the content creates a more graver picture than what the headline suggests . It can be misleading and counterproductive. Thank you.

  2. If this virus spreads on books and Normal paper. Then how can we say that it will not spread with newspapers?

  3. I have already stopped getting newspaper for indefinite period. Our system of distribution is unhygienic and there is every possibility that the virus can be transmitted via newspaper.

  4. The newspaper by itself may not be an issue. But the real issue is the potential spread through the distribution channels. While adequate care will be taken by print media during the production process, the distribution part is a totally different ball game. In kerala along there must be 50000 people or more involved in the distribution exercise. And if one just happens to see how it is done, there is a high probabilty that the disease can spread through the distribution process. When we are advising persons on the social distancing etc, why are we missing out and exempting such distribution of print ,media. It is unlike foreign countries where the risk is low as people buy the newspapers from kiosks. here each distributing agent goes from house to house and these people cannot be expected to keep basic levels of hygiene and we are just defeating the very purpose of social distancing. Electronic media is available for dissemination of news. Then why print media? Can they have a voluntary stoppage for 21 dys? Is it so much of a burden when compared to the risks?

    • डिअर सर
      मैं आपके समक्ष कुछ बाते लाना चाहता हूँ।
      अभी भारत में अखवार रोजाना घर पर पहुचाये जा रहे है। दावा किया जा रहा है कि इसमें कोई रिस्क नहीं। और सब कुछ मानवरहित होता है। लेकिन घरों तक हॉकर्स ही पहुंचाते है। भारत में इन हॉकर्स का कोई मेडिकल चेकअप नहीं होता है। अधिकांश मामलो में हॉकर्स सेनिटाइज़र्स का उपयोग नहीं करते। पाठक अखवार के घर पहुंचते ही उसको पढ़ना शुरू कर देते है। यदि कोई हॉकर कोरोना से पीड़ित है तो इन्फेक्शन फैलने का डर है। सरकार और सम्बंधित अथॉरिटी तत्काल कदम उठाये। हॉकर्स को सेनिटाइज़र्स प्रदान करे।
      इसी प्रकार दूध की थैली बेचने वालो को भी सेनेटाइज़र्स का यूज़ करवाए।
      किराना की दुकान वाले को भी सेनेटाइज़र्स का यूज़ करवाए।
      बाहर का सामान किस प्रकार यूज लेना उस तरीके को बताये।
      भारत में गावो में एक ही अखवार को 5 -10 लोग पढ़ते है। अपवाह है कि अखवार में कोई रिस्क नहीं है। लोग अब भी अखवार का आदान प्रदान कर रहे है।
      इससे कोरोना का रिस्क बढ़ रहा है। अधिकांश मामलो में हॉकर्स सेनिटाइज़र्स का उपयोग नहीं करते। WHO इन चीजों के बारे में नहीं जानता और उसके अखवार बारे में डायरेक्शन शायद भारत के परिपेक्ष पूरी तरह से सही न हो।
      मेरी सरकार और सम्बंधित अथॉरिटी से प्रार्थना है कि जल्द से जल्द कोई कदम उठाए।
      मनीष गुप्ता बगरू

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