By Sophia Lam
Workers in the Foxconn electronics manufacturing factory in central China were hit hard by a recent outbreak of COVID-19.
Under the Chinese regime’s zero-COVID measures, many workers at the plant in Zhengzhou City, the capital of Henan Province, are isolated in dormitories or makeshift quarantine facilities, and have been asking the outside world for help with food, medicine, and improvement of the facilities.
Their online videos and posts went viral, despite Beijing’s strict censorship.
Workers are worried about becoming infected, as more colleagues test positive for the virus, they told The Epoch Times in recent interviews.
Foxconn, officially known as Hon Hai Technology Group, is headquartered in Taiwan. It claims to be “the world’s largest electronics manufacturer” and has over 40 production plants in China, according to its official websites.
The factory in Zhengzhou produces “half of Apple’s global supply,” according to the New York Times, citing Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst at TF International Securities, a financial services group.
Workers Isolated With Positive Cases in Dorms and Bare-Shell Properties
The Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou has dormitories in different locations. Workers who test positive and their close contacts are isolated in dormitories and bare-shell properties the plant has rented, according to workers interviewed by the Chinese language edition of The Epoch Times.
Zhang Xiaoya’s (using an alias for safety reasons), sister is a Foxconn employee. She told The Epoch Times on Oct. 24 that her sister and her sister’s colleagues sharing the same room were locked down in Foxconn’s dormitories in Yukang North on Oct. 19, after one person tested positive for COVID-19.
“The positive case lives together with close contacts who are negative, and people who were originally negative were infected and became positive [for COVID-19],” Zhang said.
On Oct. 22, three other people tested positive for COVID-19, and her sister developed a fever that day.
The Yukang North dormitory complex is an old facility that is fully packed with the isolated employees, according to Zhang.
“It is very dirty in the building. There is garbage in the corridors and in the rooms,” Zhang said, and patients have to clean up the garbage themselves.
Ms. Zhao (pseudonym), a Foxconn employee, is also isolated in the Yukang North dormitory complex. She told The Epoch Times on Oct. 25 that she would rather stay at Yukang North, even though though its conditions are getting worse, than be isolated in a bare shell property that was developed by Evergrande.
According to Zhao, there is no water or electricity in Yukang North and residents have not been tested in the past three days. But the conditions in the bare-shell property are even worse. Twenty people are locked in one room, bars have been installed outside the windows to prevent people from jumping off the building to commit suicide, and there is poor wifi there.
“It is hard for people isolated there to send out information,” Zhao said.
“It is too far from Foxconn, and if we go there, no one will see or hear us. We have to wait to die if we stay there,” Zhao said.
Ms. Yan (pseudonym), her mother, and her sister, are employees of Foxconn. She said that her mother is quarantined in the bare-shell Evergrande property. She told The Epoch Times on Oct. 26 that there is barely anything there.
“There is no bed in some rooms, and people have to sleep on the bare ground. It’s getting cold now,” said Yan.
It is late autumn in Zhengzhou. The temperatures in the city on Oct. 26 ranged from 48° F to 64° F, according to a weather forecast on Netease, a major news outlet in China.
Quarantine Facilities Lack Medicine and Food
Zhang told The Epoch Times that her sister had a fever of 100.94° F on Oct. 22, but wasn’t given any medicine. Food was delivered once a day, and was already cold when it arrived, she said.
According to Zhang, there was no medicine, and only one thermometer in the room. Her sister and other positive cases had to rely on wet towels and drinking water to lower their body temperatures.
Dai Xiaoyong (pseudonym), another employee, told The Epoch Times on Oct. 26 that there was a shortage of food in the bare-shell property and that the supermarket in the residential compound was not allowed to be open.
“There was no food and shops were closed; so people became worried. Hundreds of people broke into a locked supermarket and basically took what they could from the supermarket,” Dai said, adding that there was a physical confrontation between the locked-down workers and security guards wearing white protective clothing and gear.
Mr. Liu (pseudonym) also said that employees locked down in the bare-shell property were starving and they shouted through the barred windows, hoping to get attention from the outside and asking people deliver food to them.
Ms. Liang (pseudonym), a headhunter for Foxconn, is also in a quarantine facility. She called for help for those she had recruited: “Some of the workers I have recruited have developed a fever. They have no access to medicines, no one to take care of them, and no PCR tests for them. Please help them to get some medicines!”
Many People in Foxconn Tested Positive: Employees
China’s national health committee announced on Oct. 28 that a total of 20 COVID-19 cases were reported in Henan Province on Oct. 27, all of which were recorded in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital.
However, multiple employees of Foxconn told The Epoch Times that the number of people in Foxconn infected by COVID-19 is higher than the official figure.
One employee said that 10,000 to 20,000 employees have been under lockdown at Evergrande’s bare-shell property and that Foxconn has rented residential complexes and commercial hotels in other areas for quarantine as well.
A notice viewed by The Epoch Times revealed that 3,967 pools of samples were collected on Oct. 25 and that by 3 p.m. 91 pools out of the 1,500 pools tested had “abnormal” test results, meaning that some people may have tested positive for COVID-19.
The notice didn’t mention when the other pools were tested or how many of them had abnormal test results.
The Chinese regime uses a pooling method for PCR tests. That is, a certain number of patient samples are combined into a pool instead of testing each sample separately. If a pooled sample tests positive, each person in that pool will be tested individually.
The Epoch Times is not able to verify how many samples are combined in a pool in Foxconn’s case, as theoretically different numbers of samples may be included in a pool.
According to another notice viewed by The Epoch Times, among the 40,000 employees in the Zhangzhuang dormitory complex, only 8,000 had returned to work. A deputy general manager surnamed Zhang ordered 16,000 employees to be released (from quarantine facilities) quickly if they meet relevant requirements. Zhang also ordered that people from the same positive pool be released directly after they had a negative individual PCR test.
Foxconn employee Mr. Li (pseudonym) sent a video clip to The Epoch Times revealing long queues of workers waiting to take give a sample for PCR testing. He said: “Please help us!”
The Epoch Times reached out to Foxconn in Zhengzhou on Oct. 27, and the responding staffer in the media department declined to comment. The Epoch Times contacted Foxconn’s media team in Taiwan on Oct. 28 and hasn’t received any comment as of press time.
The Epoch Times is not able to verify the authenticity of the video footage it has obtained.
Reuters reported on Oct. 21 that Foxconn’s Zhengzhou plant has about 300,000 employees.
According to the New York Times on Oct. 27, Foxconn said in a statement that a “‘small number of employees had been asked to quarantine.”
As employees’ video clips and posts went viral on social media platforms both in China and abroad, employees are now banned from sending information online. Some have been warned by their managers about posting the pandemic outbreak online.
Sun Yan (pseudonym), an employee of Foxconn, told The Epoch Times on Oct. 27 that employees were required to submit their social media accounts to the company.
“We are banned from sending information to the outside,” Sun said, “Internet connection was cut off in the Evergrande property because someone had been found posting information online.” She added that a colleague received a warning from his manager for posting details about the situation online.
Ms. Zhang Xiaoya also told The Epoch Times that someone called her from a public telephone booth and asked her to delete her online posts and videos. “These are facts, why should I delete them?” Zhang replied and refused to do as requested.
But the person called her sister and told her to delete Zhang’s posts, threatening her sister that they would deduct her salary deposit in the factory if she didn’t obey.
Zhang later found that most of her posts had been removed from Chinese social media platforms.
The publication contacted Zhengzhou municipal health commission on Oct. 27 but hadn’t received a reply by press time.
Hong Ning and Zhao Fenghua contributed to this report.