In an effort to provide last-mile logistics service in the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, JD Logistics—the e-commerce marketplace arm of Chinese retail giant JD.com—is continuing operations in the quarantined city of Wuhan, the company said today.
It will support those operations by issuing hygiene supplies to delivery workers, disinfecting its trucks and warehouses, and offering favorable payment and insurance terms for merchants shipping inventory on its platform that are located within the affected Hubei Province, the company said.
First reported in late January during the country's Lunar New Year celebration, coronavirus was likely sparked by an infection that jumped from animals to humans in Wuhan's wild food markets. Since then, the pneumonia-like bug has killed hundreds of people, sickened thousands, and lead to widespread closures of travel lanes, airplane flights, containerships, and other business. Business are now bracing for supply chain disruptions that could last from three to six months, conditions similar to what businesses saw in the wake of 2009's swine flu outbreak, experts say.
Despite the travel bans and quarantines imposed to slow the spread of the virus, JD Logistics first opened a dedicated channel on Jan. 25 to funnel relief materials from across the country to assist Wuhan, the company said. By Feb. 2, JD Logistics had received a total of 600 requests to transport donated materials from public welfare organizations, enterprises, and institutions. To date, the company has delivered more than 2.36 million units of medical and epidemic prevention supplies, including masks, medical gloves, goggles, and disinfectants, to major hospitals in Wuhan, Huanggang, and other places in Hubei Province, JD Logistics said.
Continuing to run last-mile distribution operations in those conditions raises extra challenges, so JD Logistics has allocated emergency materials for epidemic prevention—such as masks, thermometers, protective glasses and clothing, and disinfectant—to protect its employees "fighting on the frontlines," the company said. JD has also provided those "frontline" employees with a supplemental coronavirus insurance plan, on top of their existing benefits.
The company has also deployed emergency plans to cleanse its physical fleets and facilities, and is now undergoing regular disinfection of its warehouses, delivery stations, and vehicles.
For merchants selling inventory through JD Logistics' online marketplace, the company has offered special financial terms to companies located in Hubei Province. For those firms, JD will waive one month of fees, provide maximum insurance premiums, and support one month of free operations.
Finally, the company says it is supporting the general public by offering free online doctor consultations for people who suffer from coronavirus symptoms, opening a hotline for people who need psychological support, and hosting free, educational live-streams by respiratory and infectious disease experts and academics.