Private Swiss initiative to import medical goods from China

Geneva airport: commercially, at least, very quiet at the moment. Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi

A private, “citizen” initiative organised by business groups in Geneva is to transport almost 100 tonnes of medical equipment into the country next week. More flights are set to follow.

Keystone-SDA/dos

The initiative is being organised by the local chapter of the Switzerland-China Chamber of Commerce as well as the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services (CGIG), who confirmed on Monday a story first published last week in the Le Temps newspaper.

The groups were approached by nine cantonal hospitals and four pharmacy associations in French- and Italian-speaking Switzerland, who needed the material but were unable to find the right producers in China.

After contacting the Chinese Ambassador to Switzerland, a supplier for the gloves, vests, glasses, thermometers and masks was found, and the first shipment of some 92 tonnes is currently ready to go, in storage near Shanghai airport.

If export authorisations and customs procedures go to plan, said Vincent Subilia of the CGIG on Monday, the cargo will arrive in Geneva next week. Three other similar flights are set to follow. The total order, without transport costs, is worth CHF10 million.

Cantonal and federal officials have given the go-ahead to the private initiative, which Subilia told Le Temps is complementary to the “remarkable” work of the authorities in combating the coronavirus.


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