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Tianjin forced into greater lockdown as Covid-19 cases spread to Shanghai and Dalian

Cases of Covid-19 are spreading in Tianjin, forcing wider lockdowns, while other Chinese port cities including Dalian and Shanghai reported cases yesterday sparking fears of more supply chain chaos.

Car manufacturers Toyota and Volkswagen have suspended production at their own Tianjin factories as the situation worsened. Airbus, another major manufacturer in the city, has yet to down tools.

While Tianjin port, which handled more than 20m teu last year, continues to function, pickup of import containers has been suspended, gate hours reduced and a restriction put in place on truck deliveries.

In Dalian, two omicron cases were detected yesterday from people arriving from Tianjin. Travel links in and out of Tianjin have been severely restricted this week as authorities are wary of a Covid-19 outbreak at the Chinese capital just 140 km away with less than three weeks until the start of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Five Covid-19 cases were also reported in Shanghai yesterday. Shanghai has been raising its Covid-19-related vigilance this week ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday travel peak later this month. Splash has reported on similar Covid-19 outbreaks in Shenzhen and Ningbo in the opening fortnight of 2022.

“Unfortunately, 2022 has not started off as we had hoped,” Maersk warned in a global congestion update earlier this week, adding: “The pandemic is still going strong and unfortunately, we are seeing new outbreaks impacting our ability to move your cargo.”

On Thursday, China reported 143 confirmed local Covid-19 cases, with the majority in the central province of Henan and the port city of Tianjin.

Beijing’s strict zero-Covid policy has curbed local outbreaks with mass testing, snap lockdowns, vigilant surveillance and extensive quarantines. However, new variants such as omicron have seen outbreaks intensify since the autumn.

Eurasia Group, a US-based consultancy, has put China’s virus prevention effort at the top of its risk assessment for 2022, suggesting that the policy will further weigh down on the global economy.

“China is in the most difficult situation because of a zero-Covid policy that looked incredibly successful in 2020, but now has become a fight against a much more transmissible variant with broader lockdowns and vaccines with limited effectiveness,” its analysts warned in a report this week.

In one area of positive news regarding China and Covid-19 and supply chains, the border and customs clearance at Dongxing between the People’s Republic and Vietnam is reopening after having been shut for three weeks.

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