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In China, workers flee Covid lockdown at one of world’s biggest iPhone factory

In China, droves of migrant workers have been fleeing back to their hometowns from the country’s largest iPhone factory in Covid-hit Zhengzhou, amidst a lockdown triggered by the Covid outbreak. Apple supplier Foxconn’s COVID-19 woes at its vast iPhone manufacturing facility in China’s Zhengzhou city could slash the site’s November iPhone shipments by up to 30%, Reuters reported. 

“Workers have broken out of Apple’s largest assembly site, escaping the Zero Covid lockdown at Foxconn in Zhengzhou. After sneaking out, they’re walking to hometowns more than 100 kilometers away to beat the Covid app measures designed to control people and stop this. China,” tweeted Stephen McDonell, BBC’s correspondent in China.

Videos shared on Chinese social media showed people jumping a fence outside the plant, owned by manufacturer Foxconn, in the central city of Zhengzhou.

Foxconn’s factory in Zhengzhou assembles the majority of the company’s global iPhone output, though Apple also produces the product in southern China as well as in India. The plant, which employs about 200,000 workers, has in recent days been rocked by worker discontent over stringent measures to curb COVID-19 within the site.

Several migrant workers fled the plant over the weekend for their hometowns, driving cities to hastily draw up plans to accommodate them. The impact on production comes amid the traditionally busy time for electronics makers and ahead of the year-end holiday season, which is also a prime time for vendors such as Apple.

Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, reported 167 locally transmitted Covid cases in the seven days to 29 October, up from 97 infections in the previous seven-day period.

The city of about 10 million people was partially locked down as a result, as China continues to use strict lockdown measures to deal with Covid – the zero-Covid policy.

Under China’s ultra-strict zero-COVID policies, localities are mandated to act swiftly to quell any outbreaks, with measures that could include full-scale lockdowns.

Foxconn referred Reuters to a statement it released late on Sunday, in which the company said that the situation was gradually being brought under control and that Foxconn would coordinate back-up production capacity with its other plants to reduce any potential impact.


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