Apple manufacturer Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer, has hired a man dubbed the “SARS hero” by Chinese state media as part of its efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus.
83-year-old scientist Zhong Nanshan is credited with finding the right way to treat SARS, the severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by a novel coronavirus, which spread between late 2002 and mid-2003. Foxconn says that he will act as a consultant for its coronavirus prevention and rehabilitation efforts.
The 2002 SARS outbreak originated in southern China. It resulted in 774 deaths in a total of 17 countries, with a 9.6% fatality rate. The current novel coronavirus outbreak — named COVID-19 — has so far infected more than 76,600 people worldwide. At least 2,244 people have died as a result of the virus. The overwhelming majority of these have taken place in China. However, there have been smaller outbreaks in other countries.
China has appointed Zhong Nanshan as head of the National Health Commission’s investigation into the coronavirus outbreak. Unusually, given China’s often tight control over communication, during the previous SARS outbreak Nanshan was known for speaking out against the official China narrative about how the disease was under control.
Foxconn hires ‘SARS hero’
Foxconn has already said that it expects its full-year 2020 revenue to be affected by the outbreak. The company has taken multiple steps to safeguard against the coronavirus outbreak. It has set up a production line making surgical masks, installed infrared scanners, and developed a smartphone app which sends alerts to employees if they are too close to infection hotspots.
It has also started offering new perks to try and get employees back to work. These include free shuttle bus travel, free meals, and increased bonuses. The manufacturing giant hopes that this will help it ease labor shortages as quickly as possible. When its most critical iPhone-assembling site recently reopened, it did so with fewer than 10% of its usual workforce.