Workers walk out of Chinese iPhone factory after COVID outbreak

Foxconn workers in Zhengzhou, China, fled the dreaded COVID outbreak by scaling the facility’s fences.

The structure houses 200,000 workers and is the largest iPhone factory in the world. After days of confinement at the Taiwanese manufacturer’s massive production facility in central China, workers scaled fences on September 29 and escaped the complex, fleeing what they feared was a deepening coronavirus outbreak.

As The guardian(Opens in a new window) Footage posted on Chinese social media reportedly appeared to show workers fleeing the factory on foot. In one of the videos, people can be seen pulling suitcases as they climb a slope, while another shows people sitting with their luggage on the side of a road as someone in protective clothing sprays what appears to be disinfectant.

The lockdown prohibits workers from eating communal meals. Instead, they are forced to eat in their dormitories. In addition, N95 masks must be worn even in dormitories, and workers are tested daily for COVID.

Foxconn has not said how many workers have tested positive for the virus, nor how many have left production facilities. The company released a statement on Monday denying widespread reports that 20,000 employees had been diagnosed with COVID, Reuters reports(Opens in a new window).

Reuters also reports(Opens in a new window) that iPhone production could drop as much as 30% at the factory as Apple prepares for Christmas. Foxconn is trying to minimize the disruption by ramping up production at another factory in the city of Shenzhen.

China has a strict zero-Covid-19 policy that has seen entire cities and regions locked down for weeks at a time. Yesterday, 2,898 cases were reported in China, the second consecutive day with 2,000+ cases.

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Meanwhile, the Shanghai Disney Resort was closed today after 10 locally transmitted cases were confirmed in the city on Saturday, the BBC reports.(Opens in a new window). The resort, which includes Disneyland, announced shortly after 11:30 a.m. that guests were barred from entering or leaving the park pending negative test results. Those still inside at closing time were pictured rushing to the gates in panic at the news.

The zero-Covid strategy has begun to weigh on the country’s economic development and is testing the patience of citizens. According to the forecasts of the World Bank(Opens in a new window), China’s economic output will grow by 2.8% this year, lagging behind other Asian countries. However, last week leading epidemiologist Liang Wannian said(Opens in a new window) There was “no timetable” for exiting the zero COVID-19 rules.

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