New outbreak unlikely to impact manufacturing in Qingdao, except tourism
Published: Oct 13, 2020 04:18 PM

Residents of Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province line up for nucleic acid tests on Monday, after 12 people in the city tested positive for the coronavirus. The city on Monday vowed to test 9 million of its residents within five days. Photo: VCG

Qingdao, a coastal city in East China's Shandong Province, has become the latest coronavirus battleground in China. As the country's prevention measures against the pandemic have become routine for many months, the outbreak will have very limited impact on local manufacturers, the Global Times learnt on Tuesday.

Nevertheless, temporary disruptions caused by the outbreak may still be felt by some parts of the local service industry, tourism in particular, as more people choose to stay away from the city.

A total of 29 provinces and cities outside of Shandong have now issued notice to their residents not to travel to Qingdao in near future if it is not necessary.

Qingdao's airport cancelled nearly half its flights as of 10 am on Tuesday. Out of a total 126 planned fights from Chinese first-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province, 64 have been canceled, accounting for 50.79 percent, data from information provider VariFlight showed.

A manager at Zhonghang Travel Agency, a local agency in Qingdao, told the Global Times on Tuesday that orders have plummeted to zero in the past few days compared with the tourism boom during the National Day holiday.

The city received 4.47 million visitors during the eight-day holiday, with the most visitors coming from Taiyuan, North China's Shanxi Province, data from the Qingdao cultural and tourism bureau showed.

As of Tuesday morning, a total of 3.07 million people in Qingdao had received nucleic acid tests, and no new COVID-19 cases were detected, according to the local health authority.

The city aims to test about 6 million people from five districts by Tuesday, and as many as 9 million people will be tested in five days. So far, six confirmed cases have been reported, along with another six asymptomatic cases.

An expert with Qingdao Economic Academy surnamed Liu told the Global Times on Tuesday that the new outbreak is expected to be controlled within one to two weeks, causing much less impact on the local economy, as compared with Beijing's June outbreak from the Xinfadi wholesale food market.

"With our advantages in operating large-scale tests and our overall determination in the long-term battle against the virus, this wave will soon wane," Liu noted. 

Epidemiological investigations found that the new cases in Qingdao were linked to a local chest hospital used to treat imported COVID-19 patients.

"Tourism will likely be the most affected sector for Qingdao, because psychologically it might take a month or two for visitors to have enough confidence to return to the city," said Liu.

The Global Times has found that so far there has been very limited impact on the business of local manufacturers, high-tech firms and trading companies.

As one of world's busiest ports, the Port of Qingdao has contributed tremendously to the city's economic development and integration with the world's businesses. Tao, head of an international freight forwarding company based in Qingdao, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the port's operation is normal.

"The only difference is that our fleet drivers need to take the nucleic acid testing when they arrive in the port to pick up commodities," Tao said.

A representative of Qingdao Haier, a major electrical appliances manufacturer in the country, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the company has seen no impact, and its business operation was not affected. 

A spokesperson of CRRC Qingdao Sifang Rolling Stock Research Institute Co (CRRC SRI) also confirmed there had been no impact, and that production has continued as normal.

 "Nucleic acid testing for all employees was carried out this morning. When the epidemic occurred in the first half of this year, the factory took measures to prepare for the epidemic. Normalized prevention measures have simply continued," said the spokesperson.

Liu Run, deputy general manager of Qingdao Sen System Technology Co, told the Global Times on Tuesday that "business operation is normal. The only change is that we are now wearing face masks again, and all our employees have completed nucleic acid tests as required." 

"People in Qingdao generally do not think the epidemic will spread again, so we're not nervous," said Liu.