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In context: Manufacturing giant Foxconn has responded to a video circulated on Twitter claiming that eight people in a dormitory at its Zhengzhou, China, factory have died due to a Covid-19 outbreak. The facility, its main iPhone production plant in the country, is in the middle of a Covid lockdown, but Foxconn claims nobody has died and the video has been "maliciously edited."
Bloomberg writes that the video was posted on Twitter by a well-known Chinese dissident. It alleges that eight people died in the Foxconn factory's dorm, a claim that others have repeated on Chinese social media.
"There are no deaths at our facility," a Foxconn unit said in a statement. "We believe this is a maliciously edited video. The group is making every effort to ensure the production safety, and health and safety of colleagues."
Foxconn, headquartered in Taiwan, has reportedly placed some of its ~200,000 workers under quarantine at the plant since the Covid outbreak started in mid-October. One employee said they were shut into a "closed loop" on October 14 and have been taking constant PCR tests, wearing N95 masks, and given traditional Chinese medicine. One person claimed that around 20,000 workers had been put in quarantine on-site.
With reports of food shortages and quarantined workers receiving just bread and noodles, videos have emerged of employees escaping the compound by climbing fences and, in some cases, walking miles to get home—Foxconn said it would not stop them from departing.
Workers have broken out of #Apple's largest assembly site, escaping the Zero #Covid lockdown at Foxconn in #Zhengzhou. After sneaking out, they're walking to home towns more than 100 kilometres away to beat the Covid app measures designed to control people and stop this. #China pic.twitter.com/NHjOjclAyU— Stephen McDonell (@StephenMcDonell) October 30, 2022
One person is said to have made a 25-mile, nine-hour trek with luggage in tow to get home. The situation has led to cities in central China drawing up plans to isolate incoming workers, but there has already been an increase in the number of Covid cases at the locations.
Workers have broken out of #Apple's largest assembly site, escaping the Zero #Covid lockdown at Foxconn in #Zhengzhou. After sneaking out, they're walking to home towns more than 100 kilometres away to beat the Covid app measures designed to control people and stop this. #China pic.twitter.com/fShxj8WpIl— Stephen McDonell (@StephenMcDonell) October 30, 2022
The Zhengzhou factory represents about 60% of Foxconn's iPhone manufacturing capacity. With workers fleeing, the company is now preparing to shift production to other parts of China in the hope of mitigating the impact on Apple's supply chain.