Apple manufacturer reopens factory — but fewer than 10% of employees turn up

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Coronavirus-related shutdowns continue to disrupt Chinese factories.
Foxconn is Apple's biggest contract manufacturer.
Photo: Steve Jurvetson/Flickr CC

Key iPhone manufacturer Foxconn continues to feel the effects of the deadly coronavirus outbreak in China. The company recently reopened its factory in the eastern central Chinese city of Zhengzhou, but fewer than 10% of its workforce returned to work, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government rejected Foxconn’s request to reopen its factory in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.

The coronavirus-related shutdowns in China continue to wreak havoc on supply chains for Apple and other electronics companies.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo calls Foxconn’s reopened Zhengzhou factory the “most critical iPhone production site.” The plant produces Apple handsets including the iPhone 11 series and the upcoming iPhone SE 2.

Coronavirus effect on iPhone production

With fewer than 10% of the Zhengzhou factory’s employees returning to work, iPhone production is bound to take a hit. Given the scale of Foxconn, even the reduced workforce translates to around 16,000 people. Nonetheless, losing 90% of workers leaves the factory massively understaffed as Apple preps to ramp up iPhone production.

Reuters says authorities in Shenzhen will carry out a check later this week to ensure virus-control measures are in place at Foxconn’s factory there. If the company makes changes, the factory could reopen.

On Monday, market research firm Trendforce cut its calendar Q1 2020 forecast for iPhone production by about 10% due to the coronavirus outbreak. Trendforce thinks will manufacturers will build approximately 41 million handsets during the quarter.

More than 900 people have so far died from coronavirus in China. Cases emerged in a number of other countries around the world as well. Coronavirus deaths in China now surpass the number of people who died from the 2002-3 SARS epidemic. That outbreak killed 774 people worldwide.