Authorities at China’s commercial hub were forced into a humiliating U-turn yesterday in their battle with Covid-19. Having placed the eastern side of Shanghai, Pudong, into lockdown at the start of the week for what was planned to be five days, officials have decided to keep Pudong citizens in confinement, while the western side, Puxi, went into lockdown as planned today in the original two-stage zero-Covid crackdown strategy hatched last weekend.
Nearly all of the city’s 26m residents are now forced to stay at home with no confirmation for how long the strict measures will stay in place given that Shanghai now accounts for three out of every four local asymptomatic cases across the country.
Factories are shut as is all public transport. While the city’s many port terminals are operating – dockworkers working in a so-called closed-loop fashion – productivity has fallen dramatically this week, as it has among the local trucking workforce. Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reported earlier this week that Yangshan container port is operating at half capacity due to Covid restrictions. Yangshan operates a closed-loop protocol where the workers are divided into two teams and have to live in a sealed-off area at the port. Similar measures are in place at the Waigaoqiao container port as well as at Pudong airport. Air cargo volumes out of the city have also slumped.
“Though Shanghai port is operating, due to the lockdown, there are not enough longshoremen in the port, so the efficiency for loading and unloading has been impacted. Both Waigaoqiao Port and Yangshan Port are congested,” an update from Crane Worldwide Logistics suggested yesterday.
Some ocean carriers have announced vessel delays or are omitting Shanghai calling of some voyages, and some have announced blank sailings. Many shippers have shifted to Ningbo port to the south with some carriers allocating more space there.
The lockdown in Shanghai comes at a time where congestion at the port had been building for the past month, for all ship types, not just containerships. VesselsValue has provided Splash with data on the spike in congestion recorded over the past month through to today.
In Shanghai’s hinterland, local authorities have suspended pilot arrangements at Yangtze River ports for vessels that require NAT/PCR tests. These vessels will be quarantined at anchorage instead. This is effective from yesterday until further notice.
The Shanghai New International Expo Center, which typically hosts trade shows such as Marintec China, has been converted into the city’s largest central quarantine centre with more than 15,000 beds.
Marintec China, which was meant to have been held in Shanghai in December, has moved to late June this year thanks to earlier Covid scares.