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COVID closed Ningbo may reopen tomorrow

With congestion already impacting Shanghai, following Typhoon In-fa, the world’s largest port, Ningbo closed a key container terminal last Wednesday after a worker tested positive for COVID on Tuesday.

Operations were suspended after the 34-year-old worker at the Ningbo Meidong Container Terminal (part of Ningbo’s Meishan bonded area) tested positive.

We have seen unconfirmed reports that Meidong container terminal will start a phased reopening tomorrow, with a resumption of full operations on the 1st September after extensive testing by Ningbo health authorities showed no new cases of COVID-19 among port workers.

Ships are being diverted to other terminals and ports, which are already running at full capacity, in the aftermath of Typhoon In-fa, with some imposing restrictions limiting the number of people and containers entering port areas.

AIS data shows around 50 container vessels were waiting at the outer Zhoushan anchorage, but the number is expected to decline, as carriers cut services calling there.

Vessels are skipping Ningbo and being re-routed to Shanghai, which is experiencing the worst congestion in at least three years, with inevitable delays to some planned sailings.

The closure of the Ningbo terminal is likely to lead to problems with trucking as well, as average wait times are currently 2-4 days and you can add another day onto dwell time for every day Ningbo Meishan terminal is closed.

For any cargo currently going through that terminal, it’s not a question of if it will be impacted but for how long.

We would recommend that any urgent cargo that isn’t already at Ningbo, is trucked (as long as a special RNA test is not required for drivers) to Shanghai and then book ocean services from there.

China’s airports are also experiencing difficulties, with China Cargo Airlines and China Eastern Airlines suspending passenger belly freight until the end of August, after several crew members tested positive for Covid-19.

We anticipate more airport congestion and delays and further rate increases due to the lost air cargo capacity.

Major airports in China have restricted operations to undertake virus disinfection work and as a result, shortages in flight capacity and staff have been reported.

If the terminal does restart operations from the 18th August, to clear the backlog of cargo, no new cargo will be accepted again until a week later, from the 25th August, with normal operations resuming from the 1st September.

While we expect the situation in Ningbo will improve swiftly, after Meidong reopens fully next week, we will continue to assess its impact on a shipment by shipment basis and would urge you to contact us directly if you have any questions or concerns.