UPDATE 1-A container port in eastern China suspends operation due to COVID-19 case

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BEIJING, Aug 11 (Reuters) - A container port in China’s eastern marine hub Ningbo has suspended operation after a member of staff tested positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 10, said a port official at a press briefing on Wednesday.

Ningbo Meidong Container Terminal Corp, a subsidiary of Ningbo Zhoushan Port Company Ltd , has also suspended all inbound and lift-off services from 03:30 a.m. local time on Wednesday.

Twenty-eight container vessels are queuing outside Ningbo Zhoushan port on Wednesday, down from 53 vessels on July 29, data tracked by Refinitiv showed.

“Meidong firm immediately stopped all operations and shut down the port area after the COVID-19 test of the staff showed positive,” said Jiang Yipeng, deputy general manager of Ningbo Zhoushan Port.

Ningbo Zhoushan port, China’s second-largest container port by handling volume after Shanghai, handled 18.68 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) in the first seven months, up 17.1% on year.

The port did not disclose separate data for Meidong, where containers at China-Europe, China-Middle East and the “OCEAN Alliance” lines are handled.

The employee who tested positive for COVID-19 at Meidong port received two shots of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine in January and March this year, according to an official from the Ningbo city government.

The preliminary check suggests that it is an asymptomatic infection, and the Ningbo authority is carrying out further investigation to identify the genome sequence of the strain.

Ports in eastern China, including Ningbo, were hit by a typhoon in late July, leading to slow productivity and temporary port congestion.

Reporting by Muyu Xu and Tony Munroe, Editing by Louise Heavens