Foxconn taps respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan to advise on coronavirus as its iPhone factories ramp up production

Che Pan

Foxconn Technology Group, the world’s largest electronics contract manufacturer, said respiratory disease scientist Zhong Nanshan will act as its chief coronavirus prevention adviser to help the firm cope with the health crisis as it resumes production in China.

“Zhong Nanshan and his team will provide … free consulting and guidance on coronavirus prevention and safe resumption of production,” Foxconn said in a post on its official WeChat account on Tuesday.

The Taiwan-based company, which makes most of Apple’s iPhones and employs about 1 million workers at 30 industrial complexes in mainland China, said it is endeavouring to protect workers from the virus as it resumes partial production in its factories.

After playing a pivotal role in China’s fight against the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) epidemic in 2002-03, Zhong has become one of the most noted experts on respiratory diseases in China.

In January, when the novel coronavirus outbreak began spreading from its epicentre in Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei province, Zhong was tapped by the Ministry of Science and Technology to lead the fight against the deadly disease which has so far killed more than 2,700 people globally.

Foxconn dangles big bonus to lure new workers after shutdowns

Reuters had reported earlier this month that Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry, hoped to resume half of its production in China by the end of this month. However, the company said in response that the news agency’s reports on its overall resumption plan for mainland China plants were not “factual”.

To help get its factories back on line, Foxconn reportedly has agreed to pay new hires at its production complex in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, a bonus of up to 7,000 yuan (US$995) on top of their basic monthly salary, provided they stay in the job for 90 days. It also reportedly tried to entice back skilled workers by offering them a 3,000 yuan bonus over three months.

Foxconn declined to confirm reports about the incentive packages, saying that it does not comment on “market speculation regarding any aspect of our business operations” as a matter of company policy.

The electronics manufacturer said its factories in other countries, including Vietnam, India and Mexico, are running at full capacity.

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