FREIGHT operations have been disrupted at major Chinese ports as a surge in omicron infections triggers a wave of COVID-19 restrictions.

According to Reuters, new COVID cases have been reported in Beijing and Shanghai and provinces Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shandong and Zhejiang over the past week.

A week-long lockdown in the port city of Shenzhen starting Monday 14 March has restricted landside operations, which is affecting sea and air freight services.

Seko Logistics said in a client advisory notice that there is currently no direct impact to ocean terminals and carrier operations, but restrictions on trucks travelling in or out of Shenzhen pose a potential challenge.

Carrier employers have reportedly started working from home, which may further delay operations and communications.

Seko said airport terminals are still operational, but flight cancellations may arise, and trucking restrictions may also impact the movement of air cargo.

Further north in Shanghai, there may be delays for inbound shipments after flights land in other cities, which Seko attributes to customs clearance and bonded transfers from other airports to Shanghai Pudong International Airport.

Seko said no direct impacts to sea freight terminals or carrier operations in Port of Shanghai, have been reported, but road freight restrictions in the city have caused some shipments to be moved out of nearby Port of Ningbo.

Maersk said in an advisory notice that shipping services are still fully operational, but landside services may be impacted.

“The overall landside transportation situation is dynamic subject to change,” Maersk said.

The advisory notice said trucking services are still available for the moment, provided drivers can return negative Nucleic Acid Tests as is required by local governments.

“We foresee the overall trucking operational efficiency will be reduced significantly due to the frequent NATs, especially in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, West Pearl River Delta, Shanghai, Yangtze inland ports, Qingdao and Tianjin.”

Maersk has reported trucking services between Hong Kong and the mainland have been suspended and will be replaced by a barge service.

The company said it would not proceed with airfreight space reservations until cargo is delivered to the Hong Kong airport warehouse, which will delay airfreight services.

Warehouses are also expected to take a hit, with Shenzhen warehouses closed during the week-long lockdown.  

Maersk said warehouses in Shanghai and Qingdao and the Hong Kong Distribution Centre are currently operational, however local vaccination mandates apply to truck drivers.