China has commenced the process of reducing the number of ships calling the city of Wuhan in an effort to avoid the further spread of the Coronavirus, a deadly respiratory infection that first catalyzed in central China last week.

A number of ships have been left idling along the Yangtze River, which serves as an essential trade hub for ocean shipping. This is a strategic move that is intended to halt contact points for the virus; Beijing has also issued travel bans for cities nearby Wuhan.

All of these efforts to stop the spread of the virus fall on the eve of Chinese New Year and will have negative impacts on trade during a period that is already known to be rather disadvantageous to shippers. It is also a calamity for the Chinese people who look forward to the Spring Festival for months. Many will now be unable to see family and friends due to this emergency.

As of the writing of this article, there have been confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in the U.S., South Korea, Japan, Nepal, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam. Shippers are sure to feel the effects in the short-term as governments are likely to further choke trade in an effort to quarantine the virus.

Shapiro will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as they become available.