China Tests Thousands in IPhone City as Covid Cases Spread

by BLOOMBERG

HUNDREDS of thousands of workers at iPhone maker Foxconn Technology Group and Huawei Technologies Co. are being tested for Covid-19 as China’s latest outbreak shows no signs of easing, with cases cropping up across the country and technology hub Shenzhen on high alert.

The government in the eastern metropolis of Zhengzhou, known to locals as iPhone City, required that all residents be tested on Friday, including hundreds of thousands of employees on the local Foxconn campus. Huawei’s research campus in Dongguan, meanwhile, started mandatory Covid testing Friday afternoon for all employees, along with staff from at least one manufacturing site in the southern city.

The moves came as Shenzhen discouraged people from leaving the city after separately reporting two new infections, according to a statement from local authorities. Those who need to exit will be required to provide a negative Covid test result starting Saturday.

China’s National Health Commission on Friday reported 116 new domestically-transmitted cases for the previous day, including 57 in the city of Xi’an and 56 in central Henan province. Three asymptomatic infections were found in Shanghai.

While small in number on a global scale, the latest flareups are fueling the most protracted stretch of infections in China since the virus first emerged in Wuhan two years ago, coming just as Beijing is poised to hold the Winter Olympics next month. Mass testing is one of the more widely used measures in China’s anti-Covid arsenal as it enacts strict measures to curb local transmission of the virus, including locking down the some 13 million residents in Xi’an and halting flights in and out of the western city.

While cases continue to crop up, the country has not yet seen local transmission of the omicron variant even as it fuels record surges across the globe. 

Daily cases in Xi’an — which has reported more than 1,900 total infections – have dropped into the double digits from over 100 a week ago, as authorities grapple with public frustration over the tight restrictions. There was wide public outcry this week after a pregnant woman lost her baby outside a hospital that denied her entry due to Covid controls.

Still, officials expressed confidence that they would able to maintain China’s resolute Covid Zero stance. “Though we might expect more cases to keep coming, the risk of a substantial rebound in the outbreak has been largely contained,” Li Qun, an official with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, was quoted as telling state-backed media about Xi’an’s flareup.