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Coronavirus Fears Impacting Shipping Business At Port Of Oakland

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) -- The coronavirus outbreak is affecting business around the world with the Port of Oakland here in the Bay Area just starting to feel the impact.

A spokesperson for the Port of Oakland says 23 ships have cancelled scheduled arrivals over the next five weeks. Most of those 23 were coming from China.

The Port of Oakland gets about 120 vessel calls a month. With factory closures still in effect in China, there is not enough cargo to put on that many ships.

The port does 30 to 40 percent of all its trade with China.

"That means manufacturing production is down. As a result, the volume of import cargo coming to this country by ships will also be down," said Port of Oakland Communications Director Mike Zampa.

Zampa said just Friday morning, the United States Coast Guard imposed new restrictions for vessels coming from china to the U.S.

If a ship has been at a Chinese port within the last 14 days, crew members must stay on board the vessel while in the U.S.

Because of previous stops made before docking in Oakland, that restriction won't really affect things here.

"When a ship arrives in the U.S., it generally stops in Los Angeles or Long Beach first, then it comes to Oakland," said Zampa. "By the time a ship arrives in Oakland, it hasn't been in China for the last two to three weeks."

KCBS Radio financial reporter Jason Brooks weighed in on how the stock market impacts are affecting the Bay Area.

"There have been some local companies that have done better than most this week," said Brooks. "Clorox -- based out of Oakland -- was another big winner this week as demand rises for disinfectants. And Foster City-based Gilead Sciences has drawn some interest as it tests an experimental coronavirus vaccine in the stricken city of Wuhan."

Despite a downward turn in activity at the port, Zampa reminds us that a slowdown is typical for this time of year following Lunar New Year celebrations in Asia.

"In a normal year, we would see some decline. That decline is being exacerbated now by the coronavirus effects," explained Zampa.

The Port of Oakland says they are accustomed to the ebbs and flows of the global economy. Their concern is now focused on their customers getting the goods they need to succeed.

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