Cities in central China hastily put in place plans to isolate migrant workers fleeing to their hometowns from the country’s largest iPhone factory, amid fears they will spread the coronavirus after leaving the factory in the virus-stricken city of Zhengzhou.
Videos circulating on Chinese social media showed people allegedly workers at the Foxconn plant climbing fences and carrying their belongings along the road. And it was previously reported that a number of workers were placed under quarantine due to the outbreak of the disease.
Foxconn, one of Apple’s main suppliers headquartered in Taiwan, has about 200,000 workers at the Jingju complex. The company did not reveal the number of injured workers or the number of those who left, but it said on Sunday that it would not prevent them from leaving.
Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan Province, reported 167 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases in the seven days to Oct. 29, up from 97 in the previous seven-day period.
Late on Saturday, nearby cities including Yuzhou, Changjie, and Qinyang urged iPhone factory workers to report to local authorities before returning home.
In separate messages posted on social media to Foxconn workers, authorities said the returning workers were traveling “point to point” in tidy cars and would be isolated upon arrival.
Images and videos circulating on Chinese social media since Saturday appear to show Foxconn workers returning home, strolling across fields by day and along roads at night.
Under China’s extremely strict non-proliferation policy, cities have been mandated to act quickly to prevent any outbreak, with possible measures including a blanket lockdown. On October 19, Foxconn banned food in canteens and required workers to eat their meals in their dormitories.
“The government has agreed to resume meals to improve employee comfort and satisfaction,” Foxconn said on Sunday. “At the same time, for some employees who want to go home, the factory is cooperating with the government to organize personnel and vehicles to provide an organized point-to-point return service for employees starting today,” it added.
The disruptions caused by China’s Corona policies in trade and industry have intensified in recent weeks, with cases doubling.
“We are well aware that given the current situation, it’s a protracted battle,” Foxconn said. The company added that the situation is gradually coming under control and that it will coordinate the spare production capacity with its other factories to reduce any potential impact.