The Chinese company that assembles most of the world’s iPhones has ordered employees in one region of the country not to return to work next week to prevent further spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Foxconn sent text messages to Shenzhen-based employees that those sites will remain closed until further notice. While Foxconn’s main iPhone factory is in Zhengzhou, a portion is assembled in Shenzhen. Shenzhen is also the headquarters for Foxconn’s parent company, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.
Bloomberg News broke the story Friday morning after it obtained a copy of the message sent to Shenzhen workers. Thousands from Foxconn’s Shenzhen workforce, Bloomberg explain are out-of-towners who likely traveled for the Chinese New Year and could have visited areas where high numbers of coronavirus have been reported.
“To safeguard everyone’s health and safety and comply with government virus prevention measures, we urge you not to return to Shenzhen,” Foxconn wrote in the order. “We’ll update you on the situation in the city. The company will protect everyone’s work-related rights and interests in the duration. As for the happy reunion date in Shenzhen, please wait for further notice.”
The death toll by Thursday night was at 638. More than 31,000 cases have been reported worldwide, with the majority of the infected in China.
Apple has been bracing for disruption to its production schedules since news of the outbreak was first reported in January. It was reportedly scheduled to begin production of several new Apple products, including a low-cost iPhone.
China extended the Lunar New Year through Feb. 10 to prevent further spread and have ordered people in big outbreak areas to quarantine in place. Foxconn’s main iPhone-making base will continue on schedule but workers will be locked in on quarantine for 14 days.
Hon Hai Precision Industry also cut its 2020 revenue outlook in anticipation of a worsening health crisis.
Source: Bloomberg News