TRADE specialists have been supporting the UK's global search for personal protective equipment for frontline hospital staff.

Chamber International, a division of West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce which has a presence at York Science Park, has been working to source items from overseas to help health workers guard against Covid-19 when caring for patients.

Chamber International set aside a significant proportion of its operational capacity to trace overseas stocks of PPE and other items, including hand sanitisers and disinfectants.

By working with importers in the UK and The Republic of Ireland, the organisation identified large quantities of PPE in China, Italy and The Netherlands, which have been relayed to the UK Government through its procurement web portal.

In addition, its trade specialists identified a supply of hand sanitiser wipes, which currently await quality standard testing to see if they meet EU regulations before they can be imported to the UK.

Chamber International director, Tim Bailey, said: “The speed at which coronavirus has spread has taken countries across the world by surprise and in the UK the number of NHS health workers who have died as a result of their work is shocking."

He added: “As there is such urgency in the need for supplies, we have set aside time for our trade specialists to scour their contacts in the UK and around the world to help source PPE and other items for the NHS."

He said the Chamber had 'notified the Government about these stocks and how we can help bring them to the UK urgently and await its response'.

Chamber International helps hundreds of new and experienced exporters throughout the UK with specialist services to make exporting easier and more cost effective.

Since the lockdown started, it has been offering a variety of courses, which are covering a range of international trade topics, including some to help businesses prepare for Brexit.

The courses are interactive, available internationally, and use professional video-conferencing technology.

Director, Tim Bailey, said: “The huge upheaval created by coronavirus highlights that we are all interdependent.

"This is epitomised by international trade, which will remain crucial to help revitalise ravaged international economies after the pandemic recedes and as the UK negotiates international trade agreements.”