How Harsh are China’s Ocean Port COVID Restrictions?

China has partially suspended activity at the world’s third largest port – The Meidong Terminal, which processes fourth all cargo that comes through the Zhoushong-Ningbo port, but more on that later.

China has really had a rough go at it over the last year and a half. The virus began there and hit the entire country hard, shutting down factories, production facilities, and shipping ports alike. If you’ve been paying attention to industry news, you know that a second wave of COVID has drastically impacted Chinese ocean ports.

Yantian was partially shut down in June after a hefty outbreak of over 150 COVID cases hit works at the port. The effects on the shipping industry at large (as well as U.S. imports) were massive as Yantian is responsible for handling a large majority of Chinese exports.

But Yantian wasn’t the only Chinese port that experienced unforeseen setbacks in the last couple of months. In late July, a typhoon hit the east side of China affecting all ports along or near the eastern bay. Both Shanghai and Ningbo experienced a 10% setback in cargo handling, which came at just the right (read “wrong”) time as U.S. import demand skyrocketed as businesses began stocking up for December holidays.

Reporters have indicated that prices for containers coming to the U.S. from China have risen to $20,000 per 40-foot box, which is five times the cost of a FEU in the same month last year.

Fast forward to today. China has reported that a single worker in the Meidong Terminal contracted and tested positive for COVID. In a radical attempt to contain any potential spreading, the port shut down operations at the terminal, quarantined all staff that could have potentially been in contact with the individual, and have tested 331 employees thus far. Luckily, not a single positive case was reported out of those tested.

This shutdown is expected to put additional strain on the shipping market world-wide as China has still been attempting to recover from the partial closure at Yantian earlier this year. It’s reported that it took an entire month for Yantian to recover from the closure before operations returned to normal.

A shutdown over a single COVID case may seem extreme to some, but China is currently experiencing the worst outbreak since the virus began in late 2019. The virus continuing to spread alongside the new Delta variant are putting undue pressure on Chinese-based businesses to do everything they can to avoid furthering the spread.

China recently ordered all 11.8 million residents of Zhengzhou to undergo mandatory COVID testing. The country has roughly a 60% vaccination rate, but the Chinese vaccines being used have little efficacy against the Delta variant. It’s yet to be seen whether or not Chinese ports will continue to experience extreme COVID outbreaks, but as of now, it appears the country is being incredibly careful regarding the spread of the virus.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding how this suspension may affect your shipments, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our team members! We would love to help in any way we can.


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