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Money Laundering Is Not Just for Criminals

China literally cleaning cash to stop spread of coronavirus

February 19, 2020

As a cleaning industry professional, chances are good you’ve cleaned and disinfected various high-touch objects, from doorknobs and light switches to furniture and perhaps even mobile phones and other electronic devices. But have you cleaned money?

China is taking no chances with the ongoing coronavirus. The country’s central bank is deep cleaning or destroying potentially infected cash, CNN reports. As of last weekend, all Chinese banks must disinfect their cash with ultraviolet light and high temperatures. Then they are required to store it for seven to 14 days before releasing it to customers.

Cash that comes from high-risk infection areas, like hospitals and markets, will be sent back to the central bank, where it may be destroyed instead of being recirculated. To make up for any cash shortfalls, the bank will issue large amounts of new, uninfected cash.

Infection control specialists are uncertain as to whether people can actually become sick from handling money. However, previous studies have found that money can be very germy. A study that looked at dollar bills circulating in New York City found they carried over a hundred different strains of bacteria.

Bacteria that cause food-borne illness—including Salmonella and E. coli—can survive on coins, while other bacteria, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), has been found on bank notes.

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