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China’s Central Bank To Disinfect And Destroy Currency Notes To Prevent Virus Spread

China’s Central Bank To Disinfect And Destroy Currency Notes To Prevent Virus Spread
A new strategy has been implemented by the central bank of China to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The People's Bank of China said that currency notes that are potential infected by the virus would be subjected to deep cleaning or destroyed completely to prevent further spreading of the virus.
Officially now known as Covid-19, the coronavirus has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) and scientists are yet to know everything about it. The virus has infected more than 71,000 people globally while a total of 1,775 people have died because of the infection – primarily in Mainland China, said the WHO.  
The virus is also very contagious and spreads through human touch. Elevator buttons, door handles, and other commonly-touched surfaces in buildings in affected areas are therefore being disinfected regularly in China. That is also the reason that authorities in China are worried about the virus also being spread through cash because it changes hands multiple time during a single day.
According to the latest directive of the People's Bank of China, every bank in the country now have to disinfect their cash using ultraviolet light and high temperatures and then store them for a period of 14 days before sending them out into circulation. This was issued in a press release by the central Chinese government.
The press release further said that the cash that comes to banks from areas with high risk of infection such hospitals and wet markets will be "specially treated" and then sent back to the central bank and not re-circulated again.
According to state-run tabloid Global Times, high-risk banknotes could be completely destroyed instead of just disinfecting them in the central bank's Guangzhou branch.
Large amounts of new, uninfected cash will be issued by the central bank to make up for the supply. For example, the government press release said, for Wuhan, the Chinese city that is at the epicenter of the outbreak, the central bank circulated 4 billion yuan (about $573.5 million) in new banknotes in January.
To further limit the chances of transmission of the virus during the cash's transit, physical cash transfers of cash between hard-hit provinces have also been suspended.
Analysts and experts have however raised doubts about how much “infected” can a bank note in China be since the virus is known to die after being exposed on surfaces for a few hours – particularly if the surface has been killed with disinfectant. Further, most urban residing Chinese people do not use much cash anyway and use digital forms of payments.
However previous research has found bank notes to be incredibly dirty. Each currency note gets a bit of the environment it comes from on it as it is passed from one person to another and transfers nits of the previous environment elements on to the next person.
According to a 2017 study in New York, US dollar bills were found to be contaminated with things as diverse as DNA from pets, traces of drugs, and bacteria and viruses.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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