Here we go again: China vs Covid-19. Satellite data capture hard lockdowns. #SNN2

Welcome back to the ‘SpaceKnow Nowcasting Newsletter’ where the SpaceKnow team shares insights from its satellite activity nowcasting datasets. Today’s focus is on China.

The war in Ukraine has taken center stage over Covid-19. The pandemic is far from over. The world’s largest economy, China, currently has a zero-infection strategy. In response to new infections, China has closed down several cities (source). 

SpaceKnow has a Passenger Airport Index, which measures the activity of airports across the world using satellite data, and helps to measure the impact of China’s covid lockdown policy. China suspended an Air France flight after passengers tested positive for the virus (source). Not the first time, the China Civil Aviation authority has done so in the past, for the same reasons. (source)

SpaceKnow’s index tracks changes in airplane traffic at airports. Data from early March shows a large decrease in traffic around Chinese airports.

Figure 1: SpaceKnow China Passenger Airports 30-day index, data from February 2022 until April 4th, 2022.

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It’s noteworthy that the impact of the current lockdown is far smaller than the one in 2020 (shown below, the same scale). This is probably explained by the fact that several sectors and businesses are exempt from the restrictions today.

Figure 2: SpaceKnow China Passenger Airports 30-day index, January – April 2020

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SpaceKnow also monitors logistics and distribution centers in China, by province. Recently, several provinces have shown a sudden decline in the rate of activity. The decline could have been worse; activity fell at half the pace seen in 2020 and the decline was less sticky. In some provinces, the data already points to a small recovery. 

Key Takeaways

  • Strategic economic restrictions related to lockdowns have less impact compared to 2020 lockdowns in China.
  • The impact is strongest in airports, ports, and logistics centers.

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