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COVID-19 – Can schools do more to protect our children

Did you know that prior to COVID-19 being declared a pandemic, China had already begun to decontaminate their national cash flow, which meant that there was already an inherent risk of transmission from banknotes from the beginning.

Soon after, both the US and South Korea enacted similar measures with their banknotes.

Maybe China, US and South Korea were being over-cautious. After all, no one had proved that COVID-19 could actually live on banknotes and be a reason for transmission.

That was until a recent study by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), on the survivability of the COVID-19 virus on various surfaces, revealed some disturbing facts.

The study discovered that the virus was shockingly resilient on paper and polymer banknotes, remaining infectious for 21 days at 30oC. At 20oC, the virus remains infectious for a full month.

So not only do we have to worry about airborne viral transmission, but also the chance that just the act of purchasing using banknotes puts you and your family at risk.

Given the impact of COVID-19 on people’s lives and on the economy, you would have thought every effort would have been taken to replace cash with cashless as fast as possible. Especially in those places where the most valuable members of our society are – our schools.

Schools are where hundreds of children spend time together. Not surprisingly, whenever schools have re-opened many have had to shut because of children being tested as being positive.

When schools re-opened in Malaysia on July 2020, they remained open for only few months. All schools in Malaysia were closed by 6th November 2020, while schools in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Sabah and Putrajaya had to be closed a month earlier on 14th October.

And this was despite the best efforts of schools to ensure social distancing and adherence to the Ministry of Education’s strict Standard Operating Procedures, for operating during the coronavirus pandemic.

It is true that wearing face masks and social distancing are fundamental measures to protecting our children at school. But so is the elimination of the threat of COVID transmission through banknotes.

Consider a typical school classroom during COVID-19 – with a fan to keep it cool. Imagine that a child in that classroom has COVID-19 and pays their teacher for a school meal with a banknote that they have infected. The teacher then sends this banknote to the canteen (with all the other payments). The teacher and the canteen staff are immediately at risk of becoming infected, and can spread the virus to others, again through the use of banknotes.

This is not far-fetched. Banknotes can be COVID-19 spreaders.

Schools should be doing everything within reason to reduce and remove the risk of the COVID-19 transmission. School’s should do everything they can to stay open. Banknotes are one of the key viral transmission vectors, schools should go cashless.

Going cashless is not expensive – schools can go cashless for free today.

So, the question that parents need to ask their children’s’ schools is –

“Why aren’t you doing everything to protect our children from COVID?”

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