The spread is mainly in the province of Hubei, where Wuhan, the epicentre, is located. However, to a lesser extent, we have now confirmed cases in every province in China; and also to neighbouring countries and as far away as North America and a few countries in Europe now including the UK.
The Chinese Government is currently applying active measures such as the extension of the lunar holiday for schools & work; as well as cutting all transports in & out of Wuhan. The objective is to minimise human contacts in hope to contain further outbreak. In result, ocean & rail terminals are shut down, and also some Airlines have suspended their services into China. For now, ocean terminal at major origins are closed until Feb 10; with further suspension likely until the 17th of February to help stop the outbreak.
Due to the CNY Holiday, poor loading prospects, and the time-out required for installation of scrubbers, to meet new low Sulphur rulings most freight forwarders and carriers had already planned many blank sailings in the first quarter of the year. Now with the unforeseen enforced closures of port terminals, it will undoubtedly add even more disruptions to the normal ocean freight services. Unfortunately, we foresee more rolling and delays in deliveries of consignments to the customers.
It is hard to estimate how much longer before things can become normal again. Judging from our experience with SARS, this may continue to affect daily life until the warm weather in the summer arrives. In other words, it may be months yet.
Despite many uncertainties, Regal are committed to watch out for your interests during this challenging time. We are working on contingencies to keep stock holdings at adequate levels, but like many other importers, we will be hit by the lack of exports as you would expect. Other contingency plans will be put in place as and when required.
Given all efforts, there will be delays and disruptions to your normal supply chain. It is advisable that you factor in delays and perhaps build into your supply chain model, as replenishment will take longer and less infrequent.
Thank you for your time. And if we have any further updates we will keep you posted.