GUJRAT: The banking staff has been exposed to the coronavirus, particularly those dealing with cash or having the front desks jobs are at a high risk of being infected by the virus.

The senior management of local branches of various banks has urged the government to work out a safety plan for bank employees as the pandemic spreads across the district.

Mir Muneer Ahmed, the regional manager of a bank, while talking toDawnsays the media has been highlighting the great services being rendered by the medical professionals, administration and law enforcement agencies in coping with the virus but no one has bothered to pay attention to the banks employees, especially those dealing with the customers.

He says the currency notes are said to be a major source of spreading the coronavirus and the bank workers dealing with cash, utility bills and other matters involving paperwork and those on the front desks are more exposed to danger.

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Mr Ahmed laments that a number of banking staff has already tested positive for coronavirus in various parts of country, demanding the government seriously consider the concerns of the banking staff regarding the pandemic.

Another manager says it is important that banks should continue working due to the financial and business issues but at the same time solution should be found for the workers’ issue.

He points out that the bank branches across the district have a large number of expatriate Pakistanis as their customers and so far most of the infected persons in Gujrat have been from the expat community who have also affected their close contacts. That’s why, he adds, the matter should be taken seriously, particularly for Gujranwala division, and steps should be taken for safety of the bank employees.

Mian Mehroz Ashraf, who heads a local branch of a bank on the old GT Road, says the currency notes carry the Covid-19, which is not a good omen for the bank staff.

He points out the low ratio of customers in the bank that due to the ongoing lockdown in various parts of country, including Gujrat city and suggests that the currency-free banking should be encouraged for the public under the current conditions and the customers should be turned more to the options of digital and web banking, mobile apps and ATM.

Mr Ashraf says that keeping the bank branches open for the public in the current circumstances when the coronavirus is spreading has put the entire staff of banks at risk of being infected with the virus.

The bank employees and official have demanded the authorities to adopt a special policy for the region to save them from the pandemic.

On the other hand, 62 people of Gujrat district have so far tested positive for the coronavirus and the situation is worsening by the day.

Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2020