Major Apple supplier taking extra precautions to counter spread of COVID-19

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Foxconn employees accused of $43 million iPhone scam
Tim Cook speaking to an employee on the iPhone production line during pre-coronavirus times.
Photo: Apple

Foxconn is back up and running (and raking in the cash) after the coronavirus pandemic eased in China. But Apple’s biggest supply manufacturer is taking precautions to avoid a COVID-19 recurrence while it races toward delivering the iPhone 12 as promised.

According to a Wednesday report, at Foxconn’s primary iPhone factory in Zhengzhou, numerous strict measures have been put in place for employees. The local government seems to have stipulated these measures.

A Washington Post report notes that Foxconn is dividing workers into teams of 20. These teams must “stick together night and day” for health tracking. “The same group of employees work, travel, live, and eat together to ensure that employees’ personal trajectories are fully traced,” reads a notice by the Zhengzhou government.

Each morning, Foxconn gives workers surgical face masks. They must also have their temperatures checked. Foxconn uses tall dividers in the cafeteria to keep people separated. These stop them from seeing or talking to one another.

Foxconn also labels its cafeteria seats with QR codes for workers. The QR codes keep a record of who has said where and when for meals. Workers returning to their dorms are told to leave coats and bags in a designated location to be disinfected.

In a statement, Foxconn said that it is implementing “all recommended health and hygiene practices . . . including the use of nucleic acid tests and chest X-rays” when required. It also noted that has so far produced 10 million surgical masks to date. Its goal is to produce 2 million a day for internal use.

Foxconn battles back against COVID-19

Foxconn has been proactive in its efforts to counter the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. In February, it set up its surgical mask production lines, installed infrared scanners, and developed a smartphone app which sends alerts to employees if they are too close to infection hotspots.

It also hired the Chinese scientist 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 said that he will act as a consultant for its coronavirus prevention and rehabilitation efforts.

This week, Foxconn announced that it will start building ventilators in the United States. Foxconn will likely build these at its U.S. factory in Wisconsin.