FactorySource: Apple

What you need to know

  • Foxconn will not reopen its factories on February 10 as planned.
  • Public health experts have said that Foxconn's Shenzhen factories face a "high risk of coronavirus infection."
  • Authorities say it does not want to risk the virus spreading in such a labor-intensive working environment.

Local authorities have called off Foxconn's plan to reopen its factories in Shenzhen over fears they could be a hotbed for spreading the coronavirus.

As reported by Nikkei Asian Review:

Key iPhone supplier Foxconn's plan to resume production on Feb. 10 has been called off by the Chinese authorities due to worries surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, the Nikkei Asian Review has learned. Public health experts in Shenzhen informed Foxconn, which trades as Hon Hai Precision Industry, that its factories there face "high risks of coronavirus infection" after conducting on-site inspections and therefore are not suitable to restart work, four people familiar with the matter told Nikkei.

A memo seen by the outlet reportedly said that anyone found in "violation of epidemic prevention and control could potentially face the death penalty."

Perhaps even more worryingly for Apple, the report states that Foxconn has also canceled its plans to resume work at its Zhengzhou plant, which is the world's biggest iPhone production base. A source in the report stated:

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

It seems that the factories are considered particularly vulnerable given the use of central air conditioning used to keep dust out of the assembly process, along with the extremely high density of workers and close conditions.

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The Zhengzhou complex will not be able to reopen until approved by the local government.

Yesterday, it emerged that Shenzhen workers had been told not to return to work at the end of the Lunar Break, which had already been extended to February 10.

Official figures now put the coronavirus death doll at 722, with reports of 31,744 confirmed patients.

Apple's iPad supplier Compal Electronics has also reportedly postponed plans to reopen by another week, to February 17. Apple also announced yesterday that it would extend closure of its retail stores to February 15.