State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has directed banks to use the option of disinfecting currency notes through machines certified by the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR).
The banks procuring such machines shall ensure that the PCSIR certificate specifically mentions the capacity of the machine to disinfect bacteria and viruses including the SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19.
The banks opting for procuring disinfection machines shall inform the State Bank about the machine/technology deployed by them, the PCSIR certifications, and the detailed process of disinfection within seven (7) days of execution of a contract with the vendor, for information and record.
The currency notes can be carriers of the Covid-19 that could spread from one individual to many as a result of the exchange of notes thereby disinfecting them is necessary for the system.
Earlier, the fourteen (14) day quarantine for banknotes was introduced in line with the international practices and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. The banks that do not opt for procuring machines could continue with the fourteen (14) days quarantine requirements to disinfect the currency notes.
SBP directed all banks maintaining the accounts of hospitals and clinics for making necessary arrangements with them whereby cash collected from such clients shall be disinfected, sealed, and secured separately and shall be quarantined until further order.
The cash collections from all other sources should also be handled with due care and should preferably be disinfected in addition to authenticating, sorting, and packing as required under the Currency Management Strategy (CMS).
Cash-in-transit (CIT) companies provide cash transportation services to the banks and therefore, in order to keep the cash supply chain operational, the banks shall require all their cash service providers, including CIT companies, to ensure the availability of their services during this critical period. Banks shall also require their cash service providers to follow good hygiene and safety practices while transporting and handling the cash.
The guards of CIT companies must be using gloves and masks during the course of their duties, besides encouraging such companies to make available to their security staff provisions like hand sanitizers/disinfectants so that safe and secured transportation of cash may be ensured.
The banks shall take reasonable steps to ensure that cash being issued from the banking ecosystem is fit for use by the general public, SBP further said.