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coronavirus China
REUTERS/Aly Song
China’s coronavirus response now includes cash cleansing.
MONEY LAUNDERING, FOR REAL

China is literally cleaning its money to stop the spread of coronavirus

Chase Purdy
Member exclusive by Chase Purdy

As the Chinese government continues its effort to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus, the country’s central bank at a press conference today (Feb. 15) told media it was going to begin literally cleaning its currency.

It’s an extreme move that makes sense. Whether it’s dollars, pounds, euros, shekels, or in this case yuan, currency is notoriously dirty. A 2017 study (pdf) of $1 bills in New York found some 397 bacterial species living on the surface. And when someone with the flu handles it, that virus has been shown to survive for up to 12 days.

The World Health Organization has said that it is still not known how long the the coronavirus can survive on surfaces and objects, including money. Preliminary information has shown it can survive a few hours or more, but can be killed with basic disinfectants.