South Korea’s Central Bank Burning & Quarantining Banknotes to Contain COVID-19


In case you didn’t already know, banks in China now require certain banknotes that have been in high-risk COVID-19 areas to be disinfected with ultraviolet light and high temperatures before they can be recirculated.

These banknotes would also have to be “quarantined” for 7 to 14 days before being released to the public.


That might sound excessive but WHO has mentioned that studies show the virus may stay on a surface for a few hours or up to several days depending on the environment.

That’s not too much of an issue because many people in China have gone cashless, so it’s no surprise that a person might not have touched a banknote for days.

And South Korea’s jumping on the bandwagon, too.

In fact, they’re upping the game.

South Korea Burns & Quarantine Banknotes

Lest you’re not aware, outside of China, the land of kimchi has the most number of COVID-19 cases. As of time of writing, the country has reported 6,593 cases and 42 deaths.

Singapore, on the other hand, has 117 cases with no death yet.

Globally, several other countries have reported more cases in the last few days as the virus spread beyond Asia to Europe and America rather aggressively—for example, Italy has a whopping 3,858 cases while Germany now has 534 cases after a spike in the last two days.

South Korea’s new cases are no longer spiking like it used to be and is now gradually increasing with a few hundred cases daily, but they’re still doing what China’s done: disinfecting banknotes.

Today (6 March 2020), the country’s central bank said that they would be burning some notes as part of their efforts to contain the virus.

Image: Wikipedia

It’s unknown what notes would be destroyed, though it’s possible that they’re burning those that had been held by infected patients.

Other than that, they’d be disinfecting banknotes that come from local banks via high heat and quarantining the notes for two weeks

The Bank of Korea said, “For all cash coming to the central bank from local banks, the Bank of Korea will keep it in a safe for two weeks, given that the virus usually dies out after nine days.”


To do that, they’ll heat the notes up to 150 °C for two to three seconds, and the notes would then be kept at 42°C.

But please, do yourself a favour and don’t disinfect your banknotes yourself.


An elderly in China microwaved her notes and burned almost SGD$600. Thankfully the local bank allowed her to exchange the notes.


So don’t try it at home. If you want to, quarantine your banknotes with us. We’d be glad to keep it for you for 14 years.