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Apple’s Largest iPhone Factory Faces COVID-19 Lockdown in China

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On Friday evening, Chinese authorities placed several areas in the tech production mecca of Zhengzhou — home to the largest iPhone assembly plant in the world, operated by Apple supplier Foxconn — under immediate quarantine (via Bloomberg).

Some areas in the Zhengzhou Airport Economy Zone have been placed under quarantine with people not allowed to leave, according to a statement shared on the Chinese social media platform WeChat.

The Zhengzhou lockdowns are the latest in a string of efforts from the Chinese government to curb the country’s largest COVID-19 outbreak in two years. Staff at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou plant had already been undergoing mandatory COVID-19 testing in recent days, but the new regulations may make closed-loop arrangements harder to maintain and force the facility to shut down.

Major cities from Shanghai to Guangzhou have already imposed lockdowns and other restrictions on their citizens, hampering global supply chains of everything from electronics to cars.

Another Foxconn production facility in Shenzhen, China, had to suspend operations last month, but Apple was expected to only see a “limited impact” from that shutdown on its supply chain.

The Zhengzhou factory, however, is a much larger contributor to Apple’s global iPhone supply chain, with its over 250,000 workers. A protracted closure of the plant could cramp supply, despite Apple having cut production targets last year.

The Cupertino, California-based tech giant has taken measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-related shutdowns in China on production, though.

Apple started trial production of the iPhone 13 at Foxconn’s Indian plant near Chennai late last year. Starting this month, Foxconn will produce Apple’s current lineup of iPhones in India for the first time ever.

Fellow Apple suppliers Quanta Computer Inc., which produces almost three-quarters of Apple’s Macbooks, and Pegatron Corp. have also halted production in eastern China to comply with local COVID-related restrictions. As a result, supply constraints are starting to bare their fangs at other Apple products as well.

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