As importers brace for coronavirus impact, should shoppers question the safety of Chinese parcels?

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ParcelHero says international shoppers are increasingly concerned about Wuhan packages; as new parcel restrictions and factory closures are set to impact on many imported item orders.

The spread of the coronavirus is likely to impact significantly on UK importers and consumers, warns the international courier services expert ParcelHero. It says restrictions on shipments and compulsory factory closures in China’s Hubei province, which is at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak, will mean significant delays on items from this important Chinese manufacturing area. And it cautions concern is spreading worldwide about the potential dangers of receiving parcels from Hubei.

Explains ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, David Jinks MILT: “Over 50 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed outside mainland China, including in the United States, Australia, France and Thailand. Fears about the spread of the virus beyond China through parcels shipments have been expressed in many key China export markets such as the USA and Malaysia. A US laboratory chemist who received a parcel mailed via China Post’s Wuhan facility complained to the United Stated Postal Service that such parcels could potentially spread disease ‘depending on the contents of the package’. Alarm in Malaysia has become so great that its Deputy Director of the Ministry of Health, Dr Li Guozhong, was forced to made a statement to Malaysia’s national newspaper, Sin Chew Daily, saying that it takes more than 24 hours for a package to be shipped from China to Malaysia, so the risk of the Wuhan pneumonia virus passing through the package is low.”

Says Jinks: “Our live international courier services guide is not currently showing significant material delays in shipments to or from China, but we expect the situation to change. China itself has been forced to act over the concerns of shoppers in its key export markets. China Post’s Express Mail Service (EMS) announced on Sunday that it will delay shipping orders to disinfect goods. EMS said: “To ensure the public’s safety, we will ‘double-disinfect’ the parcels and the vehicles that will go through Wuhan, delaying the shipping progress.”

And Jinks says that though the risk of contamination from parcels seems minimal according to most experts, the outbreak is still a serious problem for UK importers and consumers; as manufacturers are being forced to extend their Chinese New Year closures, and further postal crackdowns are introduced.

‘Wuhan is at the epicentre of the outbreak and is the largest of 14 cities in Hubei to have been cut off from all travel. The area is a key manufacturing centre: 47% of its economy is industrial production. Britain’s Lotus is soon opening a car factory in Wuhan, as is Proton. The region has focused on the development of advanced and emerging manufacturing industries and it has officially encouraged privately-owned businesses based around advanced technologies and the internet; to build new household brands. That means many of the Chinese products consumers purchase on eBay are likely to be produced in the region; while many UK traders who source their stock from the Chinese B2B online wholesaler Alibaba and its B2C arm AliExpress are also likely to be impacted.’

Concludes Jinks: “China’s New Year holiday has been extended to next Sunday, and in Shanghai the government has stopped virtually all businesses from returning to work until 10 February. Production of items popular in the UK is likely to be impacted, as are mailings from affected areas.”