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Workers leave Zhengzhou iPhone factory amid COVID curbs | WGN 720 Radio

HONG KONG (AP) — Workers at a manufacturing plant in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou appear to have left to avoid the curbs of COVID-19, many of them traveling on foot for days after an unknown number of employees were quarantined at the plant following the virus a flash

Videos circulating on Chinese social media show people purported to be Foxconn workers climbing over fences and carrying their belongings along the road.

Foxconn’s factory in Zhengzhou, Henan province, is one of the largest factories in China that assembles products for Apple Inc., including the latest iPhone 14 devices.

Not all videos showing workers allegedly leaving the site can be verified. It is not yet clear whether the workers who were leaving the facility fled or were allowed to leave.

Foxconn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Volunteers from nearby villages provided food and drinks for Foxconn workers. One such volunteer, who asked to be identified only by his surname Zhang for confidentiality reasons, was put in charge of distributing supplies prepared by his village in Xinyang County. He said the people shown in the video he uploaded to the short video platform Douyin were Foxconn workers because they would have to walk down this road when they left the facility.

The exodus of workers followed reports that Foxconn had placed a number of workers in quarantine following a COVID-19 outbreak at the factory.

Foxconn’s Zhengzhou facility could house up to 350,000 factory workers, but it is unclear how many of them are currently employed at the factory. It’s also unclear how many have left or how many were affected by the COVID-19 curbs installed at the factory before they left.

Earlier this week, the media reported that the factory had implemented a “closed loop” system that largely restricts workers from moving between their residences and the plant.

Local media reports said Foxconn workers complained of poor food quality and a lack of medical care for those who tested positive, amid growing fears that the infection could spread. The company also denied rumors that 20,000 people at the plant were infected with COVID-19.

Cities near Zhengzhou have since urged Foxconn workers to notify local authorities when they plan to return to their hometowns so they can undergo appropriate isolation measures.

According to reports on the Zhengzhou government’s public WeChat account, Foxconn issued messages to its factory workers on Sunday, promising to provide safety, legal rights and income for those who want to stay.

A day after videos of workers leaving the factory circulated, Foxconn and several local governments also arranged transportation for workers who decided to return home. It is unclear how much freedom of action the workers who decided to leave the factory had.

The departure of Foxconn workers from the Zhengzhou plant underscores growing discontent with China’s “zero COVID” strategy, where governments are trying to stop outbreaks by imposing strict isolation and lockdown measures where infections are detected.


AP video producer Liu Zheng in Beijing contributed to this report.


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