Omicron – China reports first case amid fears over supply chains

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The Omicron variant has also reached China, state media reported on Tuesday, as the country’s factories are forced to close to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Authorities in the northeastern Chinese city of Tianjin have tracked down Omicron, a traveler returning from abroad, without specifying from which country, the Tianjin Daily reported.

Meanwhile, several companies have suspended operations in one of China’s largest processing centers as authorities try to curb Covid-19 outbreaks by halting production of products ranging from batteries and clothing to fabric and plastic dyes.

At least 20 listed companies have ceased operations in parts of Zhejiang Province, a province with a huge industrial sector accounting for about 6% of China’s GDP and producing many products for export.

Tens of thousands of people have been quarantined and domestic flights have been suspended as a national health commission official said the outbreak in three cities – Ningbo, Shaoxing and Hangzhou – was progressing at a “relatively fast” pace.

The three cities account for more than 50% of the province’s GDP, which last year amounted to about 6.46 trillion. yuan ($ 1.02 trillion).

Zhejiang reported 44 local cases on December 13, according to official figures released today, bringing the total to 217 in just one week since the first incident was announced on December 6. Prior to the latest outbreak, the county had only reported one local outbreak this year.

The Zhenhai area, in the port city of Ningbo, has issued an order suspending all operations except those necessary for daily life and dealing with the coronavirus. Petrochemical plants can continue to operate but with reduced production.

Major industries in Zhenhai include machinery and chemical companies. There are also factories in the area with investments from more than 700 foreign companies, including LG Electronics and Toshiba, according to the Zhenhai local government website.

In Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province, several listed companies have announced a suspension of production to the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

“The closure of the factories in Zhejiang will affect the supply chains in many industries, mainly the textile industry,” Jaopeng Singh, an economist at ANZ Research, told AFP. According to him, the recent outbreak may take 40 days to eliminate, which means that production will not be able to restart before the Chinese New Year, which falls on February 1.

In China, where Covid-19 first appeared two years ago, it has largely managed to reduce its spread in the spring of 2020 by adopting drastic restraint measures. However, sporadic outbreaks are common.

More than 50,000 people have been quarantined in special facilities in the coastal province of 64.4 million, while more than 20,000 are under house arrest. More than 465,000 people are under surveillance.

Source: ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ / AFP / Reuters

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