In an advisory to all authorized agent banks, BSP cash department director Ruth Gonzaga said banks should conduct their own sanitization of banknotes prior to depositing to the BSP for the protection of all cash handlers.
STAR/ File
Banks told to sanitize bank notes to kill virus
Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) - March 26, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has instructed banks to sanitize banknotes to protect cash handlers and prevent the further spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 in the country.

In an advisory to all authorized agent banks, BSP cash department director Ruth Gonzaga said banks should conduct their own sanitization of banknotes prior to depositing to the BSP for the protection of all cash handlers.

Gonzaga stated in the advisory that all banknotes for deposits must be sanitized through the use of shrink-wrapping machines with heat level set to the highest degree celsius temperature of 100 to 150 degree Celsius for at least 40 seconds.

She pointed out bundles sanitized should be marked or stamped “Sanitized.”

She added authorized agent banks could also employ ways to provide precautionary measures for the protection of their cash handlers, such as misting or disinfectant spraying prior to placing in currency vaults and requirement for cash handlers to wear gloves or other appropriate positive protective equipment.

Another way to disinfect banknotes, Gonzaga said, is to adopt a 14-day cash quarantine in bank vaults.

“These are only examples, and authorized agent banks are not precluded to implement their own health precautionary measures to protect their workers,” she said.

Gonzaga said the central bank employs a set of protective measures from the point of entry of armored vehicles in the BSP Security Plant Complex in Quezon City up to the cash department loading bays.

She said the cash department would continue to accept banknotes and coin deposits, whether or not marked “sanitized.”

The BSP through the Metro Manila Currency Operations Sub-Sector has issued the operating guidelines in servicing deposits and withdrawal transactions until April 14 after Malacañang placed the entire Luzon under a month-long enhanced community quarantine.

Aside from the sanitization of banknotes, the guidelines also adopts strict security protocols particularly thermal scanning as well as the wearing of proper personal protective equipment of bank representatives entering the security plant complex.

“The use of surgical masks is highly recommended for persons with respiratory infections such as coughing and sneezing,” the central bank said.

Although the World Health Organization (WHO) did not say cash was transmitting the coronavirus, major central banks including the US Federal Reserve and People’s Bank of China , among others disinfected banknotes before putting back into circulation.

BSP RUTH GONZAGA
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