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Workers at Foxconn’s massive Chinese iPhone manufacturing leave out of fear of COVID

With 200,000 other employees, Yuan endured days of lock-in at the massive Foxconn site in central China. On Saturday night, Yuan managed to scale the walls and leave the building, joining others who were also escaping what they believed to be an expanding COVID outbreak.
Every step he took furthered him from the Foxconn (2317.TW) Zhengzhou plant—a Taiwan-based company’s biggest in mainland China, as he made his way through the night in the direction of his hometown of Hebi.
Yuan said on Monday that there were a lot of people on the road due to the delicate nature of the situation.
A COVID-19 outbreak at Foxconn’s site in Zhengzhou, the capital of the Henan province in centre China, has been going on since mid-October. To prevent the coronavirus from spreading to the outside world, employees were kept inside. Foxconn has consistently declined to reveal the caseload.

On October 14, everything was shut down, and the workers had to perform many PCR tests. They had to don N95 masks and received traditional Chinese medication after around 10 days, according to Yuan.
He said there would be a public announcement if a positive or probable case was discovered in a production line, but work would go on.
People would be summoned away amid the workday, and if they didn’t show up the following day, Yuan claimed they had been abducted.
Yuan had heard that 20,000 employees had been placed in quarantine on the premises, but he was unsure of the exact number due to management’s decision to withhold that information.
Huge numbers of persons who are thought to be close or even possible acquaintances of an infected person are routinely isolated in China.
The second-largest economy in the world is still fighting COVID with intrusive lockdowns, widespread testing, and quarantines, while many other nations have decided to put up with the illness.
This has required retaining a large number of employees on-site in apparent “closed-loop” systems for businesses with large manufacturing campuses, like Foxconn, to maintain their production lines.
According to a 21-year-old worker with the last name Li, food for tens of thousands was simply left outside of the quarantined buildings at the company.
Li, who is still employed at the facility, declared her intention to resign.
Foxconn, an Apple (AAPL.O) supplier, claimed in a statement on Monday that rumours that 20,000 of its employees had been afflicted with COVID were untrue.
Workers had the option to depart if they so desired, the firm informed the press in an email statement on Sunday afternoon.
An inquiry for additional commentary on Monday went unanswered by Foxconn.
The impact of China’s zero-COVID rules on business and industry has grown in October as the severity of the cases has increased. Aside from the lockout at Foxconn, the Shanghai Disney Resort was closed as of Monday to adhere to anti-epidemic regulations with guests still there.
When Yuan learned that a worker housing complex close to his plant had been blocked off by personnel on Friday and that the facility itself would be subject to a curfew the following day, things reached a head for him.

Yuan made the hasty decision to depart the following day, joining the waves of other evacuees. If a curfew was subsequently put in place was not immediately apparent.
By Sunday dawn, Yuan had hiked to the Yellow River’s banks, which marked Zhengzhou’s northern frontier. However, he was stopped 50 kilometres (30 miles) short of Hebi by officials from the city of Xinxiang, which was on the opposite side of the river.
Yuan, who was later taken to Hebi and placed under quarantine, declared he would never return to Foxconn. Along with many other impacted individuals, Zhengzhou has tried his patience.

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