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Omicron cases detected in Shenzhen and Beijing

In China, the number of Covid-19 cases across the county reached the highest since March 2020 on Monday, as the country reported a daily rise of 223 new infections.

The first local transmission of the omicron variant in Beijing was reported on Saturday, with the Winter Olympics fast approaching.

Authorities in southern Guangdong province reported nine new local cases on Monday, spread across the cities of Zhuhai, Meizhou, Zhongshan and the major container port destination of Shenzhen.

Shenzhen has logged a handful of cases of the delta variant since last week, while it reported its first omicron infection Sunday.

In good news, Ningbo, the world’s third largest container port, which has been in partial lockdown for most of the opening days of 2022, restrictions are being eased, making entry and exit far easier for truck drivers heading to the city’s five container terminals.

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.

Frayed supply chains because of the pandemic are being acutely felt across the world. Across the Pacific, it was reported last week by the Pacific Maritime Association that 800 dockworkers – or one in 10 of the workforce – at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach were unavailable for Covid-related reasons.

San Francisco-based freight forwarding and customs brokerage Flexport provides a weekly measurement called the Ocean Timeliness Indicator, which measures the time taken from the moment cargo is ready from the exporter until the importer takes delivery.

On the transpacific eastbound, the average time in 2019 prior to the pandemic was 45 to 50 days. As of January 2 2022 the figure hit a new record high of 110 days. Similarly for Asia to Europe, the pre-pandemic average transport time was around 55 to 60 days, whereas the situation on January 2 was 108 days.

Peter Sand, chief analyst at Xeneta, told Splash last week that as container shipping remains pressed to the edge, any shocks could cause further increases either in base rates or surcharges.

“With the virus still spreading and China maintaining its zero-Covid strategy, more port shutdowns or other black swan events that would send spot rates upwards can’t be ruled out,” Sand said.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. I am stunned that many continue to think China actually publishes the truth about the situation inside the country. Analysis paralysis and data manipulation… Omicron is apparently omnipresent and largely asymptomatic …. so who the hell knows what the truth is? What a stupid policy zero covid is! Just my own view.

    1. You know, when the first covid case come out in Shenzhen, within 48 hours, the whole city is did the covid test for 1-3 times. Shenzhen have 17 million populations.

  2. No matter what China does, the West will always try to present it in the most negative light possible. What would these critics suggest China do? Just let Omicron rip through the whole population of 1.4 billion people, like what most Western countries do? China’s hospitals would collapse. Then they would condemn China for having a high infection rate and failing to stop Covid! They demand China stop the spread of Covid, then they condemn China for taking action to minimize the spread of Covid! It’s like they can’t make up their minds on what they want China to do. I have family members living in three different cities in three different provinces in China, and they are all much safer from Covid than I am in Canada. China’s Zero Covid strategy is much more successful than the strategies of most Western countries.

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