In response to a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV ) outbreak classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an international public health emergency, humanitarian relief organization Airlink has activated its Asia-Pacific Regional Response Plan (RRP). The organization, which harnesses the speed and power of the aviation industry to respond to disasters and other humanitarian crises, is working with dozens of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), airlines, and logistics companies to address air transportation, sourcing, and information-sharing challenges related to the response.
According to the WHO, cases of the virus, first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, now number 20,630 and 425 deaths have occurred as of February 4.
Many airlines have suspended or reduced flights to China, adding challenges to an already constricted supply chain for personal protective equipment and other supplies needed to stop the spread of the virus.
Airlink is no stranger to responding to global health crises. In 2014 and 2015, it played a significant role in the response to the Ebola outbreak in west Africa when it launched an airbridge to transport medical supplies into the region no longer served by commercial aviation due to the outbreak.
“Airlink is uniquely suited to respond to emergencies like the coronavirus that require immediate action from the humanitarian sector and are loaded with logistics challenges, not the least of which is a reduction or complete stop of commercial flights to the impacted region,” said Steven J. Smith, president and CEO. “Our organization is the nexus between reputable aid organizations with the tools to respond and other actors with the resources and expertise needed to get help to communities fighting the virus.”
A Regional Approach to 2019-nCoV
Through consistent engagement of stakeholders, including more than 130 NGOs, 50 airlines, and national disaster agencies, during non-disaster periods, Airlink’s regional response framework is designed to inform a timely response to humanitarian crises and provide relief to affected communities. The regional plans build a common understanding of the coordination and aid delivery resources available when crises hits. For more than a year, Airlink has been building its capacity to respond in the Asia-Pacific region in case of emergencies like this.
While the organization is focused on its response to China, it is preparing for needs beyond the country’s borders, be that in other parts of the Asia-Pacific region or beyond.
“We also have regional response plans for North America, Europe, Latin America and Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa that will inform our decisions and help Airlink act quickly should the coronavirus bring other areas to their knees,” said Smith.
In addition to 2019-nCoV, Airlink is responding to a Dengue Fever outbreak in the Marshall Islands, earthquakes in Puerto Rico, brushfires in Australia, and other crises occurring around the globe.