China is disinfecting and destroying cash as a way to contain the coronavirus that is ravaging the country.
The People’s Bank of China has ordered the return of paper currency in circulation at hospitals, animal markets and buses near the country’s hot zones in order to destruct potentially-contaminated bills.
While in quarantine, the cash will be subjected to a disinfection process that involves ultraviolet light.
“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,” PBOC deputy governor, Fan Yifei, said.
The new measures, announced by the People’s Bank of China on Saturday, aim to contain the spread of the virus, officially known as Covid-19. There is still a lot unknown about the virus, which has infected more than 71,000 people globally and killed 1,775, the majority in China — but it appears to survive for at least several hours on surfaces, according to the World Health Organization.
Nearly 7.8 billion yuan, or $1.1 billion, was removed from circulation in the Guangdong province between Feb. 3 and 13, while another 3 billion yuan, $429 million, or was put back into circulation, South China Morning Post reported.
The government has also halted the transfer of cash across provinces, as well as between cities most impacted by the epidemic, according to Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, the bank will churn out 600 billion yuan, or $85.6 billion, in new bills to the Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, to prevent any disruption to the money supply, officials said.