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China is disinfecting banknotes to contain spread of Coronavirus

Categories : Cash is the most widely used payment instrument
February 21, 2020
Tags : Asia, Cash, Central Bank, China
Amidst the Coronavirus outbreak, China’s central bank is launching efforts to disinfect or replace banknotes which have been potentially in contact with the Coronavirus.
Communication Team / Equipo de Comunicación

This post is also available in: Spanish

China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, has implemented guidelines for the disinfection or replacement of banknotes with high exposure to the COVID 19 Coronavirus that has killed more than 1,700 people and has left more than 71,000 infected as of 17 February.

The process of disinfecting these banknotes involves the use of ultraviolet light or high temperatures to disinfect the notes, then sealing and storing them for 7 to 14 days – depending on the severity of the outbreak in a particular region, China’s central bank said at a press conference.

Fan Yifei, the deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, said that banks had been urged to provide new banknotes to customers whenever possible, reports The Guardian. The central bank made an “emergency issuance” of 4bn yuan (around $570 million)  in new notes to Hubei province, the center of the outbreak, before the recent lunar new year holiday, Fan added.

According to the World Health Organisation, it is still unknown how long the virus survives on surfaces, although preliminary information suggests it may survive a few hours or more. Simple disinfectants can kill the virus making it no longer possible to infect people. Yet, it is a fact that the payments instruments we handle on a day-to-day basis – whether cash, cards or phones – carry a fair amount of bacteria. There is little evidence however of transmission of disease linked to money.

This post is also available in: Spanish