Thu | May 28, 2020

Coronavirus crisis hits global flows of letters, parcels

Published:Wednesday | February 12, 2020 | 12:11 AM
Workers pack bottles of alcohol disinfectant in a factory in Suining in southwest China’s Sichuan province yesterday.
Workers pack bottles of alcohol disinfectant in a factory in Suining in southwest China’s Sichuan province yesterday.

PARIS (AP):

Postal operators in the United States, China and elsewhere say the suspension of flights to slow the spread of a deadly new virus is having a major impact on global flows of letters and parcels.

In a note seen by The Associated Press, the United States Postal Service (USPS) informed its counterparts around the world yesterday that it is “experiencing significant difficulties” in dispatching letters, parcels and express mail to China, including Hong Kong and Macau, “because most of its supplier airlines have suspended their flights” to those destinations.

As a consequence and “starting immediately”, USPS said it can no longer accept items destined for China, Hong Kong and Macao “until sufficient transport capacity becomes available”.

Likewise, in another, separate note seen by the AP, Singapore Post told its global counterparts that it is no longer accepting letters, parcels and express mail items destined for China, “until sufficient transport capacity becomes available”.

The notes were shared with postal services around the world via the Universal Postal Union (UPC), a United Nations agency headquartered in Switzerland that is a main forum for postal cooperation between its 192 member countries.

In a statement to the AP, the UPU said that the suspension of flights because of the virus “is going to impact the delivery of mail for the foreseeable future.”

“But it is hopefully temporary. The Universal Postal Union is carefully monitoring the operational situation, and is in constant contact with postal operators to ensure any backlog is cleared in the shortest possible time,” it said.

DISINFECTING POSTAL OFFICES

The Chinese mail service, China Post, said it is disinfecting postal offices, processing centres, and vehicles to ensure the virus doesn’t travel via the mail and to protect postal staff.

The virus does “not survive for long on objects. It is therefore safe to receive postal items from China,” said a China Post note transmitted via the UPU.

Letters, parcels and express mail that do still make it to China will be delivered “via non-face-to-face methods,” the note said.

The note said the crisis is also impacting mail that transits China to other destinations. It said the affected countries include North Korea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

The note said China Post will temporarily store undelivered transit mail “and will transport it to the destination countries when these transport options are once again available.”

“Delays should be expected in transport and delivery during this period,” it said.