Central Chinese cities prepared for lockdown after Foxconn workers fled to their hometowns from a Covid-hit iPhone assembly factory in Zhengzhou on Saturday.
Unverified footage circulated on Chinese social media of workers trekking across fields in the day and along roads at night, after a Covid outbreak in the factory had prompted a ban of all dining-in at canteens last week.
Under China’s zero-Covid policy, neighbouring cities will be mandated to act quickly on the potential threat of the virus, which could include full-scale lockdowns.
Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, reported 167 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases in the seven days to Oct. 29. Foxconn has not disclosed the number of infected workers.
The Great Escape
In an apparent show of support, residents in the vicinity left bottled water and provisions next to major roads with signs such as: “For Foxconn workers returning home”, according to social media posts.
“They were Foxconn employees who escaped from the factory and were walking home,” wrote a user of WeChat in a post about the social media images.
“Some people were walking amid wheat fields with their luggage, blankets and quilts. I couldn’t help but feel sad.”
China Urges Order
Cities near Zhengzhou, including Yuzhou, Changge and Qinyang, urged Foxconn workers to report to local authorities in advance about plans to return home.
Returning workers are to travel “point-to-point” in pre-arranged vehicles en route, and are to be quarantined on arrival, they said in separate letters on their respective social media accounts addressed to Zhengzhou Foxconn workers.
A Foxconn official had no immediate response to a request for comment.
- Reuters, with additional editing from Alfie Habershon