Chinese cities brace for wave of Foxconn workers from COVID-hit Zhengzhou

Cities in central China have hastily drawn up plans to isolate migrant workers fleeing to their hometowns from a giant iPhone-maker Foxconn assembly plant in the COVID-hit city of Zhengzhou amid fears the returnees could spark coronavirus outbreaks.

Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, reported 167 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases in the seven days ended Oct. 29, up from 97 infections in the previous seven days. Taiwan-based Foxconn, which employs about 300,000 workers in Zhengzhou, has not disclosed the number of workers infected.

As part of China’s ultra-tight zero-COVID policy, communities are required to act quickly to quell outbreaks, with measures that could include full lockdowns. On October 19, Foxconn banned all food in canteens and asked workers to take their meals in their dormitories, but assured that production was normal.

Photos and videos shared widely on Chinese social media since Saturday show Foxconn workers trekking across fields during the day and along roads at night. Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the posts.

In an apparent show of support, nearby residents left bottled water and supplies alongside main roads with signs reading, “For Foxconn workers returning home,” according to social media posts.

A Foxconn official had no immediate response to Reuters inquiries.

“They were Foxconn employees who fled the factory and went home,” a WeChat user wrote in a post about the social media images.

“Some people walked through wheat fields with their luggage, blankets and quilts. I couldn’t help but be sad.”

Late Saturday, cities near Zhengzhou, including Yuzhou, Changge and Qinyang, as well as Weiqu District and Xihua County in Xuzhou City, urged Foxconn workers to report plans to return home to local authorities in advance.

Returning workers are to travel “point-to-point” en route in pre-arranged vehicles and be quarantined upon arrival, they said in separate letters on their respective social media accounts addressed to Zhengzhou Foxconn workers.

Xihua County said it was organizing a special vehicle to bring back Foxconn factory workers originally from the county directly, starting Sunday, assuring them that they would not be turned away but that anti-epidemic measures must be observed. Chinese cities brace for wave of Foxconn workers from COVID-hit Zhengzhou

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