Port authorities in the eastern Chinese city of Zhoushan have shut parts of the port after crew members on a cargo ship loaded with Brazilian soyabeans tested positive for COVID-19, AgriCensus reported on 13 August.

The move sparked fears that unloading operations would be delayed, sources told AgriCensus.

AIS data suggested the cargo had arrived in the port on 11 August, with trade sources saying it had been chartered by Xiamen C&D.

“One cargo of Xiamen C&D’s soyabeans berthed in Zhoushan has crew members tested [COVID-19] positive. Now, the entire third-phase [area] has been blocked,” AgriCensus quoted from a message shared by four different China-based market sources.

At the time of going to press with the news item, AgriCensus said no one had been available for comment from Xiamen C&D or Zhoushan port authority as the news had broken outside business hours in China.

“The local government is implementing controls over crew changes in Manila and can only berth [in China] after 14 days of change,” one soyabean trader told AgriCensus.

“This is going to impact port congestion again,” one market source in the shipping sector was quoted as saying.

Other soyabean cargoes that had arrived into Zhoushan port were being redirected to other available parts of the port.

The news followed recent reports that crew members on up to three soyabean cargoes arriving at Chinese ports had tested positive for COVID-19. At that time, shipowners had been asked to substitute affected crew members in the Philippines before being allowed to unload in China again.

In Argentina, the first cases of COVID-19 had been reported at port terminals that ship soyabean and oil, according to a report by MercoPress on 29 July.

China’s state-owned food company COFCO International, US-based agribusiness Bunge and local soya crusher Vicentin had reported cases among employees at plants north of Rosario on the Paraná River.