Coronavirus: US Postal Service suspends shipments destined for China and Hong Kong, citing travel disruptions
USPS says it will no longer accept items destined for China ‘until sufficient transport capacity becomes available’. Most of the service’s supplier airlines have suspended their flights to the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau
The United States Postal Service (USPS) will temporarily suspend time guarantees on shipments destined for China and Hong Kong.
“USPS will be temporarily suspending the guarantee on priority mail express international destined for China and Hong Kong, effective Monday, February 10,” said a USPS service alert banner on its website.
In a note informing its counterparts globally, the USPS said it was “experiencing significant difficulties” in dispatching letters, parcels and express mail to China – including Hong Kong and Macau – as most of its supplier airlines have suspended their flights to those destinations, Associated Press reported.
Items destined for Macau will also be suspended, and USPS won’t resume services to these destinations “until sufficient transport capacity becomes available”, according to AP.
More than 70 airlines worldwide have cancelled or cut flights to China amid coronavirus fears.
On Tuesday, American Airlines announced it would extend the suspension of its China and Hong Kong flights through April 24, a month longer than it had previously planned, as travel demands have waned.
In addition to the USPS, postal operators in Singapore, South Africa, Australia and Sweden have been encountering difficulties in deliveries because of flight suspensions, with items unable to be sent from or to China.
Shipments transiting China to other countries – North Korea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam – will also be affected. They will be temporarily stored by China Post and forwarded to destination countries once the flights are resumed, Associated Press said.
China’s domestic courier services have also been disrupted amid the contagion.
On Saturday, the State Post Bureau urged the country’s major courier companies to restore over 40 per cent of their normal handling capacity by the middle of this month and continue to increase their handling capacity based on developments related to the outbreak.
The coronavirus illness, which has been officially named Covid-19 by the World Health Organisation (WHO), is believed to have originated at a seafood and meat market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
The virus has spread to at least 24 countries, claiming at least 1,112 lives – all in China except for two in Hong Kong and the Philippines – and sickening more than 43,000 people worldwide, with tens of thousands more cases suspected.