South China Morning Post reported that deliveries of steel in parts of northern China have been affected by new coronavirus cases and frigid winter temperatures. SCMP report quoted Mysteel as saying that “A rise in the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus recorded in North China’s Hebei province over the past few days is making steel producers, traders and raw materials suppliers in the province anxious, especially as local authorities have quickly imposed restrictions on trucking in parts of the province, disrupting the transport of both steel and raw materials, but the tangible impact on mill operations has been limited so far. While larger steel mills are still operating, there have already been logistical disruptions in terms of production and deliveries, because Hebei, which surrounds most of Beijing, has closed major highways leading into the provincial capital, Shijiazhuang, where some major steel factories are located.”
Other regions of China have also begun implementing measures restricting traffic from Hebei, and that includes trucks carrying coal, which is in higher demand now, as it is used in power generation and heating. The export of some coal from main production regions to Hebei has been blocked. Huatai Futures in a research note said “Affected by the outbreak, there are been traffic restrictions in many highways in Hebei, and some coal mines in other regions do not allow trucks with Hebei licence plates to load coal, so the export of some coal from main production regions to Hebei has been blocked.”
According to Cqcoal.com, Hebei’s biggest ports of Qinhuangdao, Caofeidian, Jingtang and Huanghua, which handle large quantities of iron ore and coal imports for northern China, were still operating but had to close down for business on Wednesday and Thursday due to strong winds that accompanied the cold snap.
The China Meteorological Administration last week issued its first cold weather alert of the year, warning of further temperature drops in much of the country, including parts of northeast and northern China.
With the Lunar New Year holiday just over a month away, Mainland China reported 69 cases on January 9, compared with 33 reported a day earlier. National Health Commission said 21 of the new cases were imported and most of the locally transmitted cases, 46 out of 48, were in Hebei Province, which has finished testing all 13 million people in the major cities of Shijiazhuang and Xingtai. About 87% of the positive cases live in Gaocheng District of Shijiazhuang City. The highly concentrated regional distribution of the positive cases indicates that the virus has not spread widely so far. Shijiazhuang has entered a lockdown since January 6 as authorities strive to contain the latest outbreak. Residents have been required not to leave the cities, except for emergencies. Major highways, train and bus stations were temporarily closed.
Over the course of the pandemic, mainland China has reported a total of 87,433 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 4,634 deaths.