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Chinese cities are bracing for the wave of Foxconn workers from covid-stricken Zhengzhou

BEIJING, Oct 30 (Reuters) – Cities in central China hastily drew up plans to isolate migrant workers fleeing to their hometowns from a large assembly hall of iPhone maker Foxconn ( 2317.TW ) in COVID-hit Zhengzhou, fearing for them to trigger coronavirus outbreaks.

Zhengzhou, the capital of central Henan province, reported 1[ads1]67 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases in the seven days to October 29, up from 97 infections in the previous seven-day period.

Apple ( AAPL.O ) supplier Foxconn, based in Taiwan, currently has about 200,000 workers at its Zhengzhou complex and has not disclosed the number of infected workers, but said on Sunday it would not stop workers from leaving.

Late on Saturday, cities near Zhengzhou, including Yuzhou, Changge and Qinyang, urged Foxconn workers to report to local authorities in advance before going home.

Returning workers will travel “point-to-point” in prearranged vehicles and will be quarantined upon arrival, they said in separate letters on their respective social media accounts addressed to Zhengzhou Foxconn workers.

Under China’s ultra-strict zero-COVID policy, cities are required to act quickly to contain any outbreaks, with measures that could include full-scale lockdowns. On October 19, Foxconn banned all eating in canteens and required workers to take their meals in their dormitories.

“The government agreed to resume canteen meals to improve the convenience and satisfaction of employees’ lives,” Foxconn told Reuters in an emailed response to questions on Sunday.

“At the same time, for some employees who want to go home, (the facility) is working with the authorities to organize personnel and vehicles to provide a point-to-point orderly return service for employees starting today.”

Disruptions from China’s COVID policies to trade and industry have intensified in recent weeks as cases have increased. Shanghai Disneyland said Saturday it would operate at reduced capacity. On Wednesday, Universal Beijing Resort was suspended after the visit of an infected person.

“We are very aware that under the current situation it is a long-term battle,” Foxconn said.

But the situation was gradually coming under control, it said, and Foxconn would coordinate spare production capacity with its other factories to reduce the potential impact.

Apple did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the Foxconn situation.


Foxconn did not respond to Reuters’ questions about how many cases had been detected at its Zhengzhou factory and how many workers had left.

Photographs and videos circulating on Chinese social media since Saturday showed Foxconn workers, apparently on their way home, wandering across fields by day and along roads at night. Reuters could not immediately confirm the authenticity of the posts.

In a show of support, nearby residents left bottled water and provisions on the side of roads with signs that read: “For Foxconn workers returning home,” according to social media posts.

“Some people were walking among the wheat fields with their luggage, blankets and quilts,” one WeChat user wrote in a post about the photos on social media.

– I couldn’t help but be sad.

Reporting by Ryan Woo and Ziyi Tang; Editing by Edmund Klamann and Nick Macfie

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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