China ports tighten reefer container control amid virus concerns
In a move that could lead to an increase in costs of logistics and time for custom clearances, about 20 ports in Southern China have imposed restrictions on handling of reefer containers amid concern that imports of frozen food are testing positive for coronavirus.
In a customer advisory, Hapag-Lloyd listed about 20 affected ports in the Pearl River Delta region, with Guigang and Wuzhou issuing a blanket ban on reefer containers, while some, such as Da Chan Bay in Shenzhen, prohibited inbound or transhipment refrigerated boxes. Others, including Zhuhai Hongwan and Zhongshan Waimao, banned certain types of frozen foodstuff such as meat or fish.
Earlier this month, China’s customs authority said it was suspending imports from three Ecuadorian suppliers of frozen shrimp after detecting coronavirus in cargoes at Dalian and Xiamen ports. Tests on the frozen shrimp and inner packaging were negative but the General Administration of Customs said the container environment and outer packaging of the goods were at risk of contamination, although two of the three companies involved claimed the virus was only found on the walls of the container and that China was exaggerating the health risks.
Before that, China also suspended meat imports from several foreign plants due the outbreak at those facilities. China began testing imported fresh and frozen food last month after the coronavirus was found on a chopping board used to cut salmon in a Beijing food market that reported an outbreak among workers there, leading many Chinese ports have tightened their inspections over reefer cargo.