Chaos at Apple supplier Quanta shows stresses of Shanghai’s COVID lockdown | world news


SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Quanta Shanghai Manufacturing City appears to be an ideal site to implement China’s “closed-loop” management system to prevent the spread of COVID that forces staff to live and work onsite in a bubble secure.

Sprawled across land the size of 20 football pitches, the campus is home to factories, housing for 40,000 workers, some living 12 to a room, and even a supermarket.

But as COVID-19 shattered Quanta’s defenses, the system descended into chaos on Thursday.

Videos posted online showed more than a hundred Quanta workers physically overwhelming security guards dressed in hazmat suits and jumping over factory doors to escape the trap inside the plant. factory amid rumors workers upstairs that day tested positive for COVID.

The unrest at Quanta underscores the difficulties Shanghai faces in upgrading its factories, many of which are key links in global supply chains, even as much of the city of 25 million remains in lockdown. under China’s “zero momentum” COVID policy.

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Taiwan-based Quanta brings together about three-quarters of Apple’s global MacBook production and also makes circuit boards for Tesla.

Quanta did not respond to a request for comment on the videos, which appeared on Chinese social media platforms before being taken down. Apple declined to comment and Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.

Quanta has set up its closed loop to restart work at the plant on April 18 with around 5% of its workforce, or 2,000 employees, with plans to triple that figure by April 22. Chinese state media held up the restart as an example of how Shanghai was keeping business open in the country’s biggest economic hub, while adhering to strict COVID measures.

But cases were reported daily at an address belonging to the campus from March 26 to May 4, according to Shanghai government data. Quanta did not disclose the number of cases among its workers.

Calls asking for help in drawing attention to positive cases that were not isolated to Quanta began appearing on Weibo from April 6, five days after Shanghai implemented a lockdown at the city ​​scale.

More emerged throughout the month and employees began posting photos and accounts on Douyin, China’s equivalent of TikTok, which showed dozens of workers queuing for buses to be taken to the facilities. quarantine centers.

They also took videos of themselves resting at the Shanghai National Exhibition and Convention Center, one of the city’s largest quarantine centers, as well as a facility specially designed to house Quanta workers. .

Reuters was unable to independently verify the footage, but two employees and a person with direct knowledge of campus operations said there were multiple infections.

“Each dorm reported a few positive cases a day, and eventually everyone came back positive,” said one of the two workers, who gave his surname Li, adding that there were eight cases in his room. , including him.

Employees said cases were often not isolated for days after a positive test and the person with direct knowledge of campus operations said there were not enough isolation spaces, which which resulted in ongoing infections.

It was a trigger for Thursday night’s chaos, employees said, as rumors spread that positive cases had been discovered among those working in the factories.

Workers were spooked by an order telling them not to return to their dormitories, raising fears they could be locked inside the factory.

While the videos of the scrimmage were deleted over the weekend, the discussion continued on Weibo and Douyin, with one user simply saying “What a waste”.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh and Zhang Yan; Additional reporting by Sarah Wu in Taipei; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.


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