China has really gotten the brunt of COVID over the last year and a half. The virus started there and the first major economic global repercussions began in the country. While the world is beginning to alleviate the damage caused by the virus and its impact on factories, production facilities, businesses, and shipping as the vaccine rolls out, China is facing yet another major virus-relate challenge. A massive COVID-19 outbreak at the Yantian Port.
The outbreak at the port of Yantian in the southern region of China has put tons of port employees out. The short staffing combined with the ever-increasing activity at the port has left Yantian in a tough situation. Here’s a little more information regarding what you can expect now, in the coming weeks, and the next several months as a result of the outbreak.
How Bad is Yantian Port Congestion?
The port congestion began last month. On May 21, several port workers were found to have contracted COVID-19 (the Alpha variant, which was the first discovered in Britain.) In response, Shenzhen has ordered port workers to stay in 216 hastily built prefabricated buildings near the port after work rather than going home. As a country that was hit so intensely by the virus in 2020, they are taking as many additional measures as they can to ensure the virus does not spread any further.
An estimated 160,000 40ft containers are waiting to be exported from the port which is roughly equivalent to 300,000 TEUs. A couple reports had indicated that the container and vessel congestion was so bad that it could be observed from satellites in space.
Many have already compared the backup of vessels and containers to the Seuz Canal incident, claiming that the congestion at the port of Yantian is actually worse. This type of congestion lasts so long because the inability to handle the incoming vessels creates a “traffic jam” ripple effect on future cargo. Even once the port is fully staffed and able to handle cargo seamlessly, the effects of the backup could last weeks or months.
The port’s ability to keep up with shipping activity dropped significantly at the beginning of the month. Last week the port was running at 30% below regular capacity, and port workers have warned that it may take until the end of June before they are able to fully staff the port to handle the incoming containers.
An estimated 90% of the world’s electronics are exported out of Yantian port, and since these summers months are common inventory stocking months for the winter season, experts are warning that this congestion will drastically affect December holidays.
The difficulty of this particular situation is not only the outbreak and short staff at the port, but also the ever-increasing shipment activity as the world begins to lift COVID restrictions and businesses are becoming more proactive with international shipping. While the port is operating at 70% capacity with the expectation to fully handle all capacity by the end of June, shippers should expect the incident at the port of Yantian to affect cargo for the next several weeks to months.