WASHINGTON : The greenback faces the same fate as many travelers returning home from China and other Coronavirus hotspots.

The US Federal Reserve has begun quarantining physical dollars that it repatriates from Asia before recirculating them in the US financial system as a precautionary measure against spreading the virus, a Fed spokesperson told Reuters.

She said regional Fed banks that help manage the money supply will set aside shipments of dollars from Asia for seven to 10 days before processing and redistributing them to financial institutions.

The policy, first reported by Reuters, was implemented on February 21, the official said.

According to the CDC, it ''may be possible'' to transmit the virus through objects that have had direct contact with it, but person-to-person contact is the main means of spreading the disease.

The CDC recommends US residents returning from China and other high-risk countries stay home for 14 days.

As the global reserve currency, the US dollars are the most widely distributed notes in the world with around $1.75 trillion worth of cash in circulation globally, according to the Fed. Much that is circulated overseas, particularly in Asia.

A 2014 study by researchers in New York University identified 3,000 types of bacteria on dollar bills  due to how widely and frequently they change hands. [Reuters]


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