Paper Money

COVID fears result in destroyed notes in Israel

YnetNews, a major Israeli online news website, reported Nov. 18 that a 74-year-old Jerusalem woman, attempting to avoid contracting COVID-19, bleached and then microwaved 10,000 new sheqels in Israeli notes (more than $3,100), apparently on the advice of a friend, but the notes burned.

Images courtesy of YnetNews.

The news that the chance of transmission of COVID-19 via bank notes is slim, whether notes are paper or polymer, still has not reached everyone.

YnetNews, a major Israeli online news website, reported on Nov. 18 that a 74-year-old Jerusalem woman so scared of the virus that, apparently on the advice of a friend, she bleached and then microwaved 10,000 new sheqels in Israeli notes, more than $3,100, to avoid contracting the disease. 

The money was not even all hers. She was responsible for collecting rent money in her building, and she collected all the cash over the course of a week. She told the Bank of Israel, according to Ynet, “Fearing coronavirus, I touched banknotes with gloves and in my naivety I put them in a plastic bowl with bleach and heated them in the microwave to disinfect them. I left the kitchen and immediately came back smelling something burnt, and the money burned.

“I feel great guilt because it is money that does not belong to me. I am a loyal citizen and I have desecrated money. I intend to put a check in the said amount, and replace the defective bills. It makes me frustrated and makes it even harder for me to get through these difficult days tucked away at home, not to mention the financial troubles. I have a monthly pension that is not high.”

The Bank of Israel’s Currency Department investigated, and the full amount of destroyed cash was reimbursed. Photos provided by the bank show that about half of most of the notes was identifiable.

The woman says she has learned her lesson, and while she will continue to collect the rent money, the microwave is now off limits.

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