In response to a Covid-19 surge that stopped production and caused operator Foxconn to lock down the plant, substantial numbers of employees at the largest iPhone manufacturing in the world in central China have fled.
The Zhengzhou location of the Taiwanese computer firm has seen a widespread epidemic, and the business has announced that it is testing staff members daily and keeping them in the loop.
Social media videos over the weekend seemed to depict Foxconn workers leaving the company’s facility in Zhengzhou and walking back to their hometowns to get around Covid travel restrictions.
A worker wearing a hazmat suit sprays what appears to be disinfectant at people in one of the videos while they are sitting with their luggage by the side of a road. In another, people are seen sitting with their bags.
Local governments in the vicinity of the city published announcements for Foxconn employees to register with the police if they returned home and to complete a quarantine period of several days when they did.
According to the Taiwanese company, it is “cooperating with the government to organise personnel and vehicles” for those who wish to quit.
Foxconn has acknowledged that the Covid-19 outbreak will be a “protracted battle,” but it has not disclosed the precise number of its more than 200,000 employees who are either infected or in isolation.
Just 42 new Covid illnesses were formally recorded on Monday in Zhengzhou’s home region of Henan.
During the outbreak, Foxconn is alleged to have kept sick employees from receiving medical attention or timely food.
Additionally, citing an internal letter to staff as well as manufacturing workers, China Labor Watch, a New York-based NGO, has accused the company of concealing the amount of Covid-19 infections among its employees and compelling sick people to continue working.
On Sunday, Foxconn insisted that it “is making every effort” to protect the welfare of its employees.
The only major economy to adhere to a zero-Covid strategy is China, which continues to implement frequent lockdowns, extensive testing, and protracted quarantines in an effort to reduce infections.
Fast-moving viral varieties have put that strategy to the test, with recent outbreaks severely impacting businesses as virus restrictions disrupt factories and reduce consumer spending.