China has quarantined used bank notes to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the Chinese central bank announced on Saturday.
Notes will be disinfected with X-rays or high temperatures before being put aside in a safe for 7 to 14 days, explained Fan Yifei, the vice-governor of the Chinese central bank.
The quarantine period of banknotes will depend on the seriousness of the crisis in each region, Fan Yifei said.
After their quarantined period is over, the banknotes will be circulated again.
“We must protect the security and the health of cash users”, Fan Yifei said, adding that banknotes exchanges between Chinese provinces are suspended for now.
This decision follows a rise in Chinese people’s reluctance to use cash for fear of the virus.
Before China’s New Year annual holiday, the country’s central bank issued “emergency cash” worth 4 billion yuans (around 530 million euros) for the Hubei province where the coronavirus originates.
Fan Yifei said China’s central bank would go on with its “prudent” monetary policy, despite some analysts saying the country could ease it to revive its economy, which had dwindled because of the epidemic.
The central bank has renewed its support to the country’s businesses which are struggling due to the coronavirus crisis.