An outbreak of Covid-19 in southern China has combined with the rapid reopening of the world economy and a shortage of shipping containers to cause a surge in transport costs that could fuel inflation and cause shortages of goods across the globe.
China reported 21 new coronavirus cases in the mainland on Wednesday with 15 of them in the vital industrial province of Guangdong where restrictions have been in place for several weeks to contain an outbreak linked to the Delta variant first detected in India.
There are now 150 cases of the variant, mostly in Guangzhou city, and the lockdown has caused the city’s massive port to be severely disrupted. A separate outbreak in neighbouring Shenzhen – not believed to be the Delta variant – has also added to the problem. The ports are the third and fifth largest in the world and shipping costs have spiked as a result.
Transporting a 12.2-metre (40ft) steel container by sea from Shanghai to Rotterdam now costs…