Apple said Covid restrictions had “temporarily impacted” production at Foxconn’s massive iPhone factory in central China after a surge in cases prompted the Taiwanese tech giant to lock down the world’s largest maker of new devices.
Foxconn, Apple’s main subcontractor, has seen a spike in Covid-19 cases at its Zhengzhou site, prompting the company to shut down the huge complex to keep the virus at bay.
Panicked workers then fled the site on foot after allegedly being accused of poor conditions at the facility, which employs hundreds of thousands of workers.
“Covid-19 restrictions have temporarily impacted the primary assembly facility for iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max in Zhengzhou, China,” California-based Apple said in a statement late Sunday.
“The plant is currently operating at a significantly reduced capacity.”
Foxconn is China’s largest private-sector employer, with over a million people working in about 30 factories and research institutes nationwide.
But Zhengzhou is the crown jewel of the Taiwanese company, producing iPhones in quantities unseen anywhere else.
“Typically, almost all iPhone production takes place in Zhengzhou,” Ivan Lam, an analyst at specialist firm Counterpoint, told AFP.
Local authorities cordoned off the area around the factory on Wednesday, but not before reports emerged of a lack of adequate medical supplies at the factory.
Several workers have recounted scenes of chaos and increasing disorganization at Foxconn’s workshop and dormitories complex, which forms a city within a city near Zhengzhou Airport.
“There is no guarantee that people with a fever will receive medication,” another Foxconn employee, a 30-year-old man who also asked not to be identified, told AFP.
“We’re drowning,” he said.
China is the latest major economy to commit to a strategy of quenching Covid outbreaks as they occur, imposing lockdowns, mass testing and lengthy quarantines despite widespread disruption to businesses and international supply chains.
And authorities poured cold water on speculation that policies could be eased on Saturday, with National Health Commission (NHC) spokesman Mi Feng saying Beijing will “stand steadfastly in … the overall policy of dynamic zero Covid.”
“At present, China still faces the dual threat of imported infections and the spread of domestic outbreaks,” Mi said at a news conference.
“The disease control situation is as bleak and complex as ever,” he said. “People and life must continue to come first.”
© Agence France-Presse