A new harrowing report from Apple's supply chain claims that workers at the world's largest iPhone factory have been told to remain on assembly lines despite being infected and ill with COVID-19.
Rest of World reports Tuesday that the plant "is grappling with a fresh Covid-19 outbreak after the Chinese government abruptly lifted its zero-Covid restrictions" and says that the company, under pressure to catch up on iPhone 14 Pro production, has told some employees to remain on production lines despite becoming ill.
Workers were reportedly given N95 masks to stop the spread of the virus, but workers say this does nothing to reduce the risk of spread in dormitories, where up to eight workers sleep in close proximity.
A harrowing scene
Seven workers reportedly told Rest of World that "they, along with many of their roommates, contracted the virus after joining the factory this month," three of whom were asked to stay on the job "despite showing symptoms."
One employee said "several colleagues had been working despite having a fever," and that he spent 11 hours inserting screws into iPhones on Saturday, despite difficulty breathing.
That same employee claimed workers were told not to get tested for COVID so they could stay on production lines.
Apple's best iPhone, the iPhone 14 Pro, is only made in Zhengzhou and Apple has battled severe supply disruption as a result of stringent zero-COVID measures in China. These measures lead to scenes of workers fleeing factories and fighting with law enforcement.
Just a few weeks later, workers now say that symptoms like coughing and fever, which would previously have triggered panic, are now "common occurrences" on production lines. One new recruit told the outlet he worked with a fever for two days while waiting for test results, and slow workers were reportedly scolded by sick managers with raspy voices who "couldn't even walk steadily."
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Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.
Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9