When Chinese authorities placed the U.S. on its Zika virus “watch list” in August, the move sent shippers in a quandary as they scrambled to figure out how to comply with and/or work around the country’s new restrictions on shipping. The new regulations required that a third party must declare all containers mosquito-free, with non-certified goods being held at port and cleaned (with the fees charged to the shippers). The restrictions applied to all container cargo leaving U.S. ports post-August 5th, but excluded refrigerated units containing products maintained at 59 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.
When it imposed restrictions on incoming U.S. cargo ships, China became the first country to target vessels as potential carriers of the Zika virus and/or the mosquitoes that carry the virus. Here’s where things stand with Zika right now:
- Zika is dangerous for a specific segment of the world’s population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus). These mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters, but they can also bite at night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. At this time, the CDC says there is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
- The disease has hit the U.S., with Florida taking the brunt of it. As of September 14, the CDC says there have been 43 cases of locally acquired mosquito-borne cases of Zika reported in the U.S., as well as 3,132 travel-associated cases of the disease and one laboratory-acquired case (for a total of 3,176 cases reported in the U.S.). Although other states have seen cases of Zika, it is not considered such a serious issue because few — if any — are the result of the disease spreading on U.S. soil, and instead stem from a resident getting infected while traveling abroad to a country where Zika is prevalent, according to the Journal of Commerce.
- China has eased up on shipping restrictions for incoming cargo from the U.S. In September, Chinese authorities backed off their mandate that all containers arriving in the country from the U.S. comply with special rules designed to prevent the spread of Zika. According to the Journal of Commerce, the mandates now only apply to vessels that are leaving Florida—the state most seriously impacted by the disease. “The updated rules mean that only vessels and containers that originate in Florida need to be disinsected — which can include spraying with chemicals, trapping, air curtains, or other integrated pest management techniques — to combat the disease, which is spread by mosquitos,” JOC reports.
- The USDA is keeping shippers updated on what they need to do to comply with any new Zika-related regulations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service’s website lists China’s Requirements for Shipments from Zika-Infected Countries. In its most recent update, the USDA says that:
On September 2, China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) stated that it has decided to regionalize its Zika requirements for shipments of cargo from the United States based on a risk-assessment performed by AQSIQ, using data supplied by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). AQSIQ experts determined that due to the low risk of Zika transmission through shipments of cargo, vessels originating from the United States, other than the state of Florida, do not require disinsection certification. However, if during the course of routine sampling and inspection, local CIQ officials discover any adult mosquitoes, eggs, larva, or infected cases, the vessel and its contents will be subject to the full Zika requirements described below. Also, if a vessel loads or unloads in Florida or a Zika- infected country, it is subject to the full requirements. AQSIQ will continue to monitor the situation and may amend its decision to regionalize based on the Zika situation in the United States.
- Our global supply chain could serve as a conduit for Zika growth (and other viruses). It’s no secret that the interconnected, global supply chain is making it easier for new viruses to spread around the world. Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) is reporting that there are 70 affected countries, with the worst effects seen within the Americas. There is also a growing threat within Southeast Asia, according to Forbes’ China Adds US Exporters To List Of Zika-Invested Countries: Is The Supply Chain Infected? According to the article, Singapore has fumigated large swaths of its housing estates after 41 cases of the virus were confirmed. “Currently, this is the largest single known cluster of the disease within Asia,” Jonathan Webb writes, “but there are clearly concerns that the virus will spread.”
- The U.S. government has yet to come up with a plan for funding Zika vaccine research. Leaders in the U.S. Congress have been working toward temporarily funding the government in the fiscal year starting October 1 and providing money to battle the Zika outbreak. On September 6, the $1.1 billion bill to pay for the nation’s Zika response failed in the senate (the same funding measures fell twice under similar margins in June and July). According to Politico’s Zika funding bill fails — again, the next opportunity to attach Zika funding to must-pass legislation, perhaps the only chance in the near future, will be the legislative package to fund government beyond Sept. 30.
At DB Schenker we place the utmost importance on health and safety. We also recognize that our customers constantly strive for greater reliability of their logistics. This is why we provide you the best information so you can ship with confidence.