The northeastern port city of Dalian in China is being a third round of lockdowns and quarantine as the city has been linked to a new wave of the Delta variant of COVID-19. Health officials have begun closing non-essential businesses including at least parts of the port operation. Residents have been ordered to remain at home except for essential travel as mass testing and sanitation regimes are again introduced in the city.
The latest wave of COVID-19 cases began to appear at the beginning of November. Yesterday health officials reported 80 domestic cases of the virus with some media reports saying as many as 52 additional local symptomatic cases were recorded on Friday. The health officials said the outbreaks had so far been limited to several clusters, which they were working to isolate. In total, more than 200 cases of the virus have been reported in the region in less than two weeks.
The first case in the latest wave of the virus reportedly came from a worker at a warehouse in the port’s cold chain food operations. So far, 14 cold storage employees reportedly have tested positive out of a total workforce of approximately 600,000 employees in the imported cold-chain food operations.
China, however, has taken a strict zero-tolerance approach to the virus leading the health officials on November 8 to order all work at the cold-chain food operations in the port suspended. This led to immediate predictions that the circulation of cold-chain foods would be impacted in the domestic market. The operations at the port of Dalian handled approximately 70 percent of the imported cold-chain goods entering China and as much as a third of all the cold-chain goods in China are handled in Dalian.
This latest outbreak is the third wave that is reported to have begun in the cold storage operations at the port. In July 2020, the first wave was linked to an employee in one of the processing workshops. Again, in December 2020, a second wave was reportedly traced to a loader for one of the cold chain importers.
The latest round of lockdowns includes the road entries into the city, where only individuals with a green health pass and negative test results are being permitted to proceed. The airports, railway terminals, and parts of the port are all reported suspended as well as a closing of schools, universities, and museums. Officials are limiting activities where people gather.
It is unclear if the lockdowns have at this time been extended to the container terminal operations. Dalian is one of China’s busiest ports handling a reported 10 million TEU each year. Dalian also plays a vital role in the transshipment of goods in Asia. It is a primary port for transshipment in China as well as with links to over 160 countries.