SEOUL, Feb. 21 (Yonhap) — The amount of cargo processed at South Korea’s seaports moved down 1.6 percent in January from a year earlier amid the new coronavirus pandemic, data showed Sunday.

The volume of cargo handled at local sea ports came to 128.9 million tons last month, compared with 131 million tons posted a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

Handling of export-import cargo also shrank 1 percent on-year to 111.1 million tons last month.

The ministry attributed the decrease to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has dealt a harsh blow to the global business activities.

“Despite the uncertainties, the amount of cargo handled at local ports is expected to recover when the virus curve flattens,” a ministry official said.

Container cargo processed at the seaports, on the other hand, advanced 3.8 percent on-year to reach 2.47 million twenty-foot-equivalent units (TEUs), according to the ministry. TEU stands for a 20-foot equivalent unit.

The growth came as the government allocated special shipping schedules to American and Southeast Asian routes last year, with the demand from the Americas also posting a recovery since September.