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This year, a main area of focus should be mitigating the disruptive impact of the coronavirus on global supply chains, including its effects on health, security and aid to vulnerable communities. The disease has led to limited access for employees due to quarantines and curfews, factory closures or manufacturing slowdowns, limited access to logistics to move goods, and skyrocketing costs that are making it difficult for limited-income families to cope, especially when combined with layoffs or forced leaves.
Resilinc, a supply chain mapping and risk-monitoring company, has issued preliminary reports on the number of items sourced from and the sites of industries located in the quarantined areas severely affected by the pandemic in various countries. The information shows that manufacturers in more than a dozen industries are facing a supply crisis and are struggling to mitigate the impact on their supply chains. Just like the Fukushima nuclear crisis of 2011, the current crisis has exposed weaknesses in supply chains, such as relying on a single source or a limited number of sources for key inputs.
Especially critical are health supply chains. Medical equipment and supplies needed to fight the disease are in short supply and the production lines to make them need to be expanded quickly. Distribution is an even greater problem amid rising costs and limited transportation channels. Countries with fragile health systems are finding it more difficult to monitor and fight the disease. If left to their own devices, disease could spread uncontrollably and, in the end, spread to other countries.