Coronavirus: China orders iPhone manufacturer Foxconn not to restart production until next week

Chinese authorities have blocked a plan by the Taiwanese OEM which makes smartphones for global vendors including Apple to resume production until next week

Amid rising health concerns following the coronavirus outbreak in the country, Chinese authorities have blocked Foxconn from resuming production for yet another week.

The Taiwanese OEM had announced last week that it was planning to extend the leave for its Chinese factory workers until February 9 and then restart production. However, following the Chinese government's order, all Foxconn factories in China will now remain shut until at least February 15. The decision to extend the shutdown has been taken to safeguard Foxconn employees from contacting the deadly virus that has rocked the entire mainland China and sent shockwaves around the world.

Foxconn factories unsuitable for workers

Foxconn Wikimedia Commons

According to a report by Japanese publication Nikkei, public health experts who carried out inspections at Foxconn factories in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen told the company that its factories had a "high risk of coronavirus infection".

The Taiwanese OEM reportedly has more than a million employees working in various factories across China.

Zhengzhou iPhone plant to remain shut too

The situation and observations made by the public health experts deem it unsuitable and unsafe for workers to resume working at the factories. Foxconn will also not resume production at one of its key iPhone plants based in the central city of Zhengzhou, the report said, citing four anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

"The local governments do not want to risk the potential virus spreading in such a labour-intensive working environment. No one wants to bear the responsibility of restarting work at this critical moment," one of the sources told Nikkei Asian Review.

iPad manufacturer extends employee leave

Another Apple OEM, Compal Electronics, which manufactures the iPad is also said to be extending the leave of its employees until next week, due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

Foxconn is a leading OEM which makes smartphones for global smartphone vendors including Apple. It is the biggest manufacturing contractor of Apple, responsible for manufacturing millions of iPhones every year at its key iPhone plants based in Shenzhen and the central city of Zhengzhou, and any stoppage in production line inadvertently affects Apple's shipments.

Foxconn has been reassuring that its shipments to Apple won't be affected and that it will restart production at the earliest. The Chinese government is taking all possible steps to prevent further spread of the coronavirus inside China with strict laws, violation of which could potentially result in the death penalty.

Coronavirus death toll

The death toll from the virus in mainland China as of Saturday, February 7, has been reported to be 722, according to authorities, and is poised to pass the 774 deaths recorded globally during the pandemic of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), another coronavirus strain that appeared in China in 2002.

Related topics : Coronavirus