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Prevalence and stability of SARS-CoV-2 RNA on Bangladeshi banknotes

Published: 20 July 2021
Science of The Total Environment , Volume 779; doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.146133

Abstract: Originating in December 2019 in China, SARS-CoV-2 has emerged as the deadliest pandemic in humankind's history. Along with direct contact and droplet contaminations, the possibility of infections through contaminated surfaces and fomites is investigating. This study aims to assess SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA's prevalence by real-time one-step reverse transcriptase PCR on banknotes circulating in Bangladesh. We also evaluated the persistence of the virus on banknotes spiked with SARS-CoV-2 positive diluted human nasopharyngeal samples. Among the 425 banknote samples collected from different entities, 7.29% (n = 31) were tested positive for targeted genes. Twenty-four positive representative samples were assessed for n gene fragments by conventional PCR and sequenced. All the samples that carry viral RNA belonged to the GR clade, the predominantly circulating clade in Bangladesh. In the stability test, the n gene was detected for up to 72 h on banknotes spiked with nasopharyngeal samples, and CT values increase significantly with time (p < 0.05). orf1b gene was observed to be less stable, especially on old banknotes, and usually went beyond detectable limit within 8 to 10 h. The stability of virus RNA well fitted by the Weibull model and concave curve for new banknotes and convex curve for old banknotes revealed. Handling banknotes is unavoidable; hence, these findings imply that proper hygiene practice is needed to limit SARS-CoV-2 transmission through banknotes.
Keywords: Coronavirus / COVID-19 / Currency / Fomite / Pandemic / Transmission
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