The hits keep coming.

A regional outbreak of COVID-19 cases in southern China has prompted a partial closure of the Port of Yantian, adding yet another hurdle for the world’s burgeoning container shipping industry.

The busiest port in China has been running at only a fraction of its total capacity for several weeks after local health officials detected asymptomatic COVID-19 cases in the region. Governmental restrictions have required stricter social distancing and quarantining measures among dockworkers. Per the JOC, the port shut down its western terminal and reduced its eastern terminal to 30 percent capacity.

As a result, the port has seen enormous congestion and delays. Mirroring the situation across the Pacific, reports say that upwards of 40 vessels are anchored outside Yantian. According to FreightWaves, carriers like Maersk and Happag-Lloyd have diverted vessels to other ports to avoid the bedlam. The latest projections estimate cargo delays as long as two weeks at Yantian.

Industry experts estimate that the ripple effects of the Yantian partial shutdown may outweigh those experienced after the Suez Canal blockage — The port handles 25 percent of all cargo between the U.S. and China. While reports of a reopening of the western terminal on June 10 bring a spot of optimism, it will take time to work through the backlog of outbound containers and inbound vessels.

This latest disturbance arrives in the wake of ongoing maritime upheaval. Soaring rates, sinking reliability, and continuous congestion at ports are likely to persist as the industry pushes further into its traditional peak season.

Scarbrough International can help navigate the challenges. Reach out to your representative for further insight and assistance.