By Zhou Qing, Global Times
As novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) spreads across the world, transportation barriers have become a major issue impeding the flow medical supplies to countries that need them most. Nations should together devise an emergency coordination mechanism to solve the shortage of medical supplies internationally.
The World Health Organization (WHO) last week declared COVID-19 a pandemic. So far there have been more than 160,000 cases worldwide. A total of 146 countries, areas and territories have seen confirmed cases.
Under these circumstances, countries may see a gap between the supply and demand of medical supplies. US federal agencies have sounded the alarm that the country may see shortages of basic medical and food supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The WHO at the beginning of this month warned of a global shortage of protective equipment and asked companies and governments to increase production by 40 percent. The situation has only worsened since.
As the first country to slowly recover from the outbreak through strong and effective measures, China has accumulated rich experience and is prepared for the worst possible situation.
China began to boost its production capacity for medical supplies quite early on. Now, Chinese companies have resumed operations to restore production volumes. Moreover, many companies, even shipbuilding companies and car manufacturers, have begun to produce more medical supplies such as masks. These medical supplies manufactured by China should be provided to the countries that need them most.
However, the transportation of these medical supplies has hit a major barrier. Aviation companies in most countries have cut international routes. Ticket prices for certain trips have soared, and the cost of charter airplanes is far from affordable.
China donated planeloads of medical supplies including masks and respirators to Italy, Belgium and Spain earlier this month. But more medical supplies, donated by or purchased from China, still need a regular and unblocked passage for transportation.
In order to satisfy the world’s enormous demand for medical supplies to fight the pandemic, it is time to establish a transportation channel between countries – particularly those which have been hard hit by the coronavirus – to allow the dispatch and receipt of medical supplies and other key supplies. Furthermore, a coordination mechanism on an international level should be set up as soon as possible to help allocate resources and maintain a safe, healthy transportation channel among countries.
China Eastern Airline carrying medical aid from China to help Spain combat COVID-19 arrives at Zaragoza airport in northern Spain. (Photo courtesy of Chinese Embassy in Spain)
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