China raises flood alert to the highest level following historic rainfall

Much of Mainland China is reeling under historic flooding after receiving the heaviest rainfall in over five decades.

The rains have disrupted supply chains, including for personal protective equipment (PPE), vital in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus is believed to have originated and the provinces of Anhui, Jiangxi and Zhejiang declared a red alert.

Wuhan warned residents to take precautions as water levels of the Yangtze river was fast approached the maximum guaranteed safety levels.

Torrential rains bring floods to China every year but the impact of the disruption they cause is being felt further afield as Chinese goods become more important in global supply chains for various items, including PPE.

“It’s just creating another major roadblock here in terms of PPE getting into the United States – it is the worst of times for it to happen but that’s what we’re dealing with right now,” said Michael Einhorn, president of Dealmed, a U.S. medical supply distributor, which sources disposable lab coats and other products from Wuhan and nearby regions.

“We cannot get product out for over a week, which is a very long time in our business,” he said, adding that the delays could last up to three weeks.

The Poyang lake in Jiangxi province, which is formed from the overspill of the Yangtze, is 2.5 metres higher than its warning level. It has expanded by more than 2,000 square kilometres during thus flood season, and parts of the surrounding town have been inundated.

Three dams which has been holding back more water to try to ease downstream flood risks, is more than 10 metres higher than its warning level, with inflows now at more than 50,000 cubic metres a second.

Further east, the Tai lake near Shanghai has also declared a red alert after its water level rose to nearly a metre higher than its safe level.

Economic activity in other parts of China, especially construction and steel and cement demand, has also been hurt by the flooding.

The floods are expected to shave off GDP growth by at least 1 percent.

READ: China: 141 dead, dozens missing, millions displaced in Historic Flooding