The outbreak of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan has halted a fledgling container shipping service between the city and Japan.
On 23 January 2020, the Chinese government announced a lockdown of Wuhan as it raced to contain the outbreak. This means that transport services to and from Wuhan are near-impossible.
AIS data shows that the 560TEU Hua Hang Han Ya 1, which was deployed on a service between Wuhan and Yokohama, Japan, has been anchored along the Yangtze River outside of Wuhan.
Hua Hang Han Ya 1, which was built by Jiangdong Shipyard in September 2019, is operated by Wuhan New Port Datong International Shipping, a subsidiary of Wuhan Port and Shipping Development Group. The latter is ultimately owned by five municipal governments of Hubei province, including that of Wuhan.
Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, has been an established manufacturing centre in China.
Wuhan Port and Shipping Development Group decided to start the Wuhan-Yokhama service to reduce dependence on upriver feedering. The service also calls at the Japanese ports of Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Kobe.
Protection and indemnity clubs and insurance specialists have issued circulars advising owners of vessels in or calling at Chinese ports, to watch out if their crew members fall ill, as China fights to contain an outbreak of a new coronavirus that has infected more than 800 people and killed at least 26 others.
The virus, which can spread between humans, appears to have originated in Wuhan, which is along the Yangtze River, but has spread to Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore and the US.
Other Chinese port cities, such as Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Tianjin, have also seen confirmed cases.