In its fight to halt the spread of coronavirus, the Chinese government announced it’s now quarantining cash to prevent people from handling it and potentially spreading the virus. It’s still not totally clear how the coronavirus is spread or how long it can exist on surfaces, so the Chinese government is aiming to take old bills and coins out of circulation to stop one potential method of transmission. The central bank announced Saturday it had put a halt to the transfer of old bank notes across provinces and will use a variety of methods to sanitize the bills, including locking up the cash in government warehouses. The government said it is simultaneously injecting billions of dollars in new cash into the Chinese economy.
The deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China said Saturday the government is introducing 600 billion yuan ($85.9 billion) of new cash with four billion yuan ($572 million) in new notes already allocated in the virus’ epicenter in Hubei Province. “Money from key virus-hit areas will be sanitized with ultraviolet rays or heated and locked up for at least 14 days, before it is distributed again,” the deputy governor said at a press conference. Commercial lenders have also been ordered to identify cash taken specifically from hospitals and wet food markets, places with high exposure risk. The South China Morning Post reports the central bank in the southern city of Guangzhou is going one step further and will destroy all notes collected from these sensitive sites.