Videos show huge medical equipment backlog in China

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Published on May 1, 2020 by

Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit has obtained exclusive video revealing a huge backlog of goods at China’s biggest export hub that is slowing the supply of medical equipment urgently needed to protect hundreds of thousands of health workers as they fight the global coronavirus pandemic.

One video filmed on April 19 shows long queues of lorries loaded with cargo at Shanghai Pudong International Airport, China’s busiest freight hub, waiting to unload at customs. Other videos reveal chaotic scenes at airport facilities with hundreds of boxes, including medical supplies, piling up in warehouses.

China produces nearly half the world’s supply of protective medical equipment with America and Europe two of its biggest
customers.

An experienced international logistics expert, who has spent months trying to buy and export medical masks, respirators and protective clothing (PPE) for various governments, described the situation as “carnage”.

Speaking anonymously for fear of repercussions for his Chinese staff, the Western shipping agent told Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit: “The degree of bureaucracy that we’ve encountered in almost every area has been horrendous.

“We’ve been able to source high-quality PPE. The challenge is getting it out of China and getting it into the country where it’s required,” the source added.

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