First CCP Virus Outbreak on International Container Ship Loading in China

April 1, 2020 Updated: April 1, 2020

News Analysis

The world’s largest container ship operator announced that crew members on one of its large vessels loading cargo at a major Chinese port tested positive for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.

AMP-Maersk confirmed on March 26 that seven crew members onboard its Gjertrud Maersk docked at China’s Ningbo port were evacuated to a local hospital. Five seafarers tested positive for CCP virus, with four infected but still asymptomatic. The ship is now quarantined in the harbor.

The Danish flagged conglomerate moves an average of 12 million containers, with 768 vessels through 300 ports in 130 countries each year. Maersk has 79,900 employees across the globe, but only about ten percent of the headcount are seafarers.

In addition to factory lockdowns in China slowing demand, major ports around the world have been imposing up to two-week quarantines for arriving containerships to try to restrict the importation of the CCP virus.

The delays have contributed to the top U.S. ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach reporting a steep drop in container volumes. Total TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) volumes in February fell by nearly 23 percent in the port of Los Angeles, and dropped by 10 percent in the port of Long Beach compared to the same month last year, according to The Maritime Executive.

But with China’s economy and its ports slowly coming back online, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) jointly called on the Group of 20 major economies on March 24 to end the delays, and to allow merchant shipping to keep flowing.

ICS secretary general Guy Platten urged classifying ship crews as key workers: “Ensuring that seafarers can travel without undue restriction will be key to maintaining the flow of food, medicine and key commodities to those countries that need it most.”

ICS represents 80 percent of the global merchant fleet.

With the International Monetary Fund expecting the CCP virus to trigger a global recession, G20 finance ministers and central bankers had voiced support during video conferences for an “action plan” to limit job and income losses from the pandemic, while working to ease supply disruptions caused by border closures, according to Reuters.

But the March 26 announcement of the CCP virus transmission at a Chinese port to the crew of a massive vessel capable of transporting 9,074 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) is a disaster for the shipping industry and the top Asian exporting countries of China, Japan and South Korea.

Prominent importing nations in Europe and North America are likely to institute even longer port quarantines and other restrictions that threaten to cause another global supply chain freeze.

The official G20 release issued on March 31 focused primarily on directing working groups to develop a coronavirus action plan over the next two weeks. The plan would focus on the debt problems of the world’s poorest nations, and to provide financial aid to the emerging market economies that have seen $83 billion in capital outflows, Reuters reported.

The only mention of accelerating trade was a verbal commitment to keep markets open to ensure the continued flow of vital medical supplies, equipment and other essential goods.

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.