China has been the epicenter of global trade for many decades and was successful in controlling the COVID-19 outbreak reasonably well.
However, things seem to be getting worse in China with several port and business closures in Yantian, followed by Ningbo due to COVID-19 outbreaks.
Reports are circulating that the city of Xiamen is facing an outbreak of COVID-19 forcing residents of Xiamen in China’s Fujian province to go into lockdown as of 13th Sep night after after 32 infections of the highly transmissible Delta variant was detected with most of them being traced back to Putian where the latest outbreak originated.
As per Chinese news reports, all the residential areas of Xiamen have been placed under “closed-loop” management which bans people from leaving their local area. All entertainment venues in the city were shut as well.
The Xiamen city government has announced the cancellation of celebrations and events for next week’s Mid-Autumn Festival and all large gatherings banned and citizens have been instructed to postpone weddings and to conduct funerals in a simple manner.
“All educational institutions from kindergarten to university have been ordered to switch to online tutoring” the report said, quoting the city government.
It is understood that a second round of widespread country wide testing has begun starting from Putian’s Xianyou county, where the outbreak began with the first round of mass-testing completed on Monday.
Xianyou county head Wu Hairui told state broadcaster CCTV that the situation was severe because of the fast spread and also because many children were involved, “but we must make sure the chain of transmission is cut“.
“Experts sent by the National Health Commission had said three rounds of citywide coronavirus tests would be needed before an initial assessment could be made on the seriousness of the outbreak” added Wu.
Huang Senzhong, an epidemiologist with Tianjin’s Nankai University, “expects the outbreak to continue spreading, with connected cases in other cities emerging this week and as many as 500 people could eventually test positive in the outbreak, which he predicted would be contained within four weeks.”
Possible downtime for shipping
Xiamen is home to the 14th largest container terminal in the world and is a very popular port in China with many services from Transpacific, Transatlantic, Europe, Intra Asia and Africa calling at this port.
This new outbreak is stoking fears of another port closure in China which could result in further congestion in many of the world’s trades especially with the Western world looking forward to Christmas gift shopping.
As per port data, there are already more than 50 vessels waiting outside the busiest corridor in USA – the Long Beach/Los Angeles corridor due to congestion.
While this is not just due to port inefficiencies, some of it may be attributed to the delays faced in China due to the closures of the Yantian and Ningbo terminals due to COVID-19.
This outbreak in Xiamen could indeed also affect the port operations there if it is not contained immediately and counter measures taken for the continuity of port operations.