We’ve been receiving many calls recently about the effect of the Coronavirus, (or COVID-19 as this strain is being referred to) on international shipments. The virus is spreading around the globe and has wreaked havoc on supply chains, from production to transportation. Currently we are seeing a reduction in space for air freight bookings as many flights to and from affected countries are being cancelled.
According to the World Health Organization, Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe sicknesses. The current strain had not been identified in humans before and was transmitted from an animal. Signs of infection include fever, cough, and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death.
Although the outbreak has been centered in the Hubei province of China, there are reports of large numbers of infected in Iran, Italy, and South Korea. The biggest impact has been felt in China where the outbreak coincided with the celebration of the Lunar New Year. During a typical Lunar New Year celebration, the country of China essentially shuts down for a week to 10 days. During this time, no production or shipping occurs. This year due to the outbreak, the Chinese government extended the holiday so people could stay home to try and contain the spread of the virus. As a result, production and shipping was delayed longer than usual. This has resulted in a backlog at the Chinese ports with people now scrambling to make up for lost time by shipping their goods immediately. As a result, shipments from China will take longer than usual.
As of now, most of the restrictions are on people travelling to affected countries. Canada Border Services Agency has not issued any restrictions on shipping goods to and from the infected countries. As such, shipments will continue as usual. However, there will be delays in the supply chain and not only because of the delays in China. At the same time the outbreak was growing, CN Rail experienced disruptions on their lines in Canada due to protests related to the building of a pipeline in Western Canada. First Nations people set up blockades along tracks and blocked access to ocean ports. Though these blockades have been removed, CN is currently working through the backlog of containers and expect the recovery to take weeks to clear.
Despite the issues that the Coronavirus has caused around the world, there are no restrictions related to the virus on shipping goods to and from countries experiencing outbreaks. Orbit Brokers is monitoring the situation closely and will provide updates if there are any changes. If you have any questions, feel free to Contact Us or if you would like a quote, please click Here.