BANGKOK, March 13 (Reuters) - A Thai foreign exchange firm is disinfecting banknotes it collects from its branches as a safety precaution for its workers and customers because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The money changer has around 15 branches at popular tourist areas in Bangkok.
"We have to ensure safety for the staff, too. We have solutions to clean and protect our staff," said Piya Tantivachyanon, chief executive at Super Rich Currency Exchange Company.
"We will send the banknotes upstairs to steam with disinfectant and then seal them in plastic bags," he said.
Workers sprayed banknotes with disinfectant before sealing them in the plastic bags to be sent to other branches.
Others workers in protective suits also sprayed disinfectant at the Super Rich branch.
The number of coronavirus cases in Thailand rose to 75 on Friday. One person has died of the virus in Thailand. Thirty-five people have recovered and been discharged from hospital.
The head of Germany's Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases has said handling banknotes does not pose a particular risk of contracting coronavirus.
But World Health Organisation officials have advised people to wash their hands after handling banknotes.
The Thai firm's measures were reassuring for its customers.
"I think that all banks and financial institutions or money exchangers should take whatever preventive action they can to minimise the risk for their customers so I think it's a good idea," customer Simon Morris said.
Last month, China ordered the disinfection of banknotes to contain the virus outbreak.
"It maybe could help kill germs by just 80% or 90%, but we still have to do it. It's the best measure we have right now," Piya said.
Thai banking group Bank of Ayudhya Pcl, on Friday said it would temporarily suspend currency exchange service at its branches and booths until the virus situation improves.
Bank of Ayudhya employees working at foreign exchange booths were instructed to self-quarantine at home for 14 days. (Additional reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng. Editing by Jane Merriman)