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China is destroying cash in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus

A bank clerk counts RMB (renminbi) yuan banknotes. (Source: Imaginechina via AP Images)

China has declared that it will be destroying bank notes in areas of high exposure to coronavirus in order to prevent the spread of the infection through cash transactions.

Guangzhou’s central bank has said that paper currency collected by hospitals, buses and wet markets – which sell meat, fish, and produce – in coronavirus-hit areas will be withdrawn for destruction, South China Morning Post reported.

Meanwhile, money in other at-risk areas will be sanitised and quarantined for two weeks before being released back into circulation.

“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,” said People’s Bank of China deputy governor Fan Yifei.

600 billion Chinese yuan (AU$127.84 billion) of new cash has been distributed through China since 17 January, with 4 billion of that sent to Wuhan, the center of the viral outbreak, and 3 billion injected into Guangdong province.

7.8 billion yuan has been withdrawn from circulation already.

Quarantined cash will be disinfected through the use of high temperatures or ultraviolet light, and the currency will be stored aside for more than 14 days before being put back in circulation, according to SCMP.

Old coins and banknotes are regularly destroyed by central banks in exchange for new ones.

The Wuhan coronavirus, dubbed ‘Covid-19’ by the World Health Organisation, has to date killed 1,770 people globally and infected 71,204, CNN has reported, including 15 infected Australians.

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