Shipping firms are scrambling to switch to other Chinese ports to avoid delays at the Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan, which suspended some trucking services after an outbreak of COVID-19, freight forwarders and experts have said.
Ships are also rerouting to Xiamen in the south, Bloomberg shipping data showed.
Those diversions are adding to a new wave of congestion facing China’s ports as an increasing number of cities deal with COVID-19 outbreaks.
Strict testing of workers and truckers ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday at the end of this month is further stressing already strained supply chains as the COVID-19 pandemic heads into its third year.
In the country’s technology hub of Shenzhen in the south, testing of residents and truckers to contain an outbreak meant that a line of ships has formed at the port, which caused the Shekou terminal to start restricting the acceptance of goods, meaning that from today, full containers can only be trucked in three days before vessels are due to arrive, the terminal operator said on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the northern Chinese city of Tianjin ordered workers to take a half-day break for COVID-19 testing, as officials try to contain an outbreak involving the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2.
Trucking capacity is estimated to be half of normal levels, and drivers are required to be tested daily before entering the port, said Alex Hersham, chief executive officer of digital freight forwarder Zencargo.
That outbreak has now spread to the port city of Dalian, with two people who traveled there from Tianjin confirmed to have the Omicron variant.
The influx of ships into Shanghai has delayed sailing schedules for container ships by about one week, freight forwarders said.
Those delays might ripple outward to already backlogged gateways in the US and Europe, they said.
“The port congestion issue will continue to impact restocking cycles this quarter, alongside the Omicron breakout and the impending Chinese [Lunar] New Year closures in China,” said Josh Brazil, vice president of supply chain insights at logistics intelligence firm project44.
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