Stacks of cash wait destruction due to coronavirus

By Yin Yeping Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/15 20:18:54


The Guangzhou branch of China's central bank, the People's Bank of China, said on Saturday all used banknotes emanating from hospitals, wet markets, and buses will be destroyed immediately to combat the COVID19 crisis.

For effective facilitation of cash disinfection, the withdrawn cash from key units will be temporarily stored in warehouses, besides inter/intra-provincial transfers in some seriously affected areas have been suspended to contain virus transmission, Fan Yifei, the deputy governor of the People's Bank of China said during a press conference on Saturday.

Fan said commercial banks are required to strictly implement the two lines of receipts and payments. Cash received must be sterilized before it can be released to customers.

Chen Yuezhe, a source close to China Guangfa Bank, confirmed with the Global Times Saturday they received a notice from the central bank on January 23 that called for the sterilization of cash for reducing the risks of the virus contamination and spread but it did not specify the sterilization technique that needs to be adopted. 

"Normally there are two ways to sterilize cash, one is via ozone and another is via ultraviolet," Chen said. 

Ozone is a large cabinet in which currency notes are kept for disinfection purposes, said Chen. "But because it's a cabinet, the amount of cash left to sterilize is very limited and costly, so we use ultraviolet to disinfect our cash," he said.

Chen said since early February, the headquarters of China Guangfa Bank started handing over cash from wet markets and hospitals directly to the local branch of the central bank.

Kate Gaynor, general manager and family medicine physician of Guangzhou United Family Hospital, told the Global Times on Saturday though there is not plenty of research yet on this particular new virus in general based on past studies, it is possible for a coronavirus to live, at least for some time, on paper. 

"It is reasonable to say that a coronavirus might survive for days on money," she said.

"Cash is just one of many surfaces that people may come in contact with, as the virus can spread by fomites, which can be door handles, keyboards, or many other things, including paper," Gaynor said.

However, Gaynor said the coronavirus is not particularly difficult to kill and many common disinfection methods work, including ozone and ultraviolet.

Commenting on the central bank's decision to sterilize cash, she said this reinforces the extreme importance for people to remember to wash their hands.


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