Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn, which manufactures key products for countless tech companies including Apple, says it will not be adjusting any manufacturing timelines or closing its factories due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The company, which is based in Taiwan and operates numerous factories in mainland China, said in a statement that it is monitoring the situation, but it’s not expecting it to affect any of its “manufacturing obligations.”
“Foxconn is closely monitoring the current public health challenge linked to the coronavirus and we are applying all recommended health and hygiene practices to all aspects of our operations in the affected markets. Our facilities in China are following holiday schedules and will continue to do so until all businesses have resumed standard operating hours,” the company says. It’s referencing the Chinese government’s extension of the Lunar New Year holiday, a measure to try to mitigate the spread of the virus by encouraging citizens to stay home and avoid travel.
“We can continue to meet all global manufacturing obligations.”
“As a matter of policy and for reasons of commercial sensitivity, we do not comment on our specific production practices,” the company adds, “but we can confirm that we have measures in place to ensure that we can continue to meet all global manufacturing obligations.”
This particular strain of the coronavirus, which health officials say originated last month in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has led to more than 100 deaths in China as of Tuesday and more than 4,500 reported cases worldwide, although a vast majority of cases are concentrated in China’s Hubei province.
Due to China’s massive role in global manufacturing, and the sheer volume of technology companies that rely on its factories to assemble products, the virus has also affected numerous hardware firms in Silicon Valley and beyond. Facebook, LG, and Razer have all begun limiting employee travel to China, and some companies have advised employees who recently traveled to China to work from home. Danish gaming accessory company SteelSeries tells The Verge it has “restricted employee travel indefinitely to China.”
For Apple, which relies heavily on Foxconn for iPhone production, there is concern the coronavirus may disrupt its manufacturing timelines for upcoming smartphones and other products. Nearly every new iPhone is assembled in factories run by Foxconn’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. subsidiary in Zhengzhou and by competing Taiwanese manufacturer Pegatron, which operates factories near Shanghai, according to Bloomberg.
Although both manufacturers’ operations are each hundreds of miles from Wuhan, the outbreak still poses a risk, say analysts interviewed by Bloomberg. Any minor disruption in Apple’s sprawling and extremely complex supply chain throughout mainland China could lead to delays in production, the report states.
Apple has yet to publicly comment on the coronavirus or how it might affect any of its operations in China, where Apple employs more than 10,000 employees across retail and corporate offices.
Apple employees are also frequent fliers to China. Apple is United Airlines’ top enterprise customer due in part to Apple prepurchasing 50 business class seats on United’s daily San Francisco to Shanghai flight. However, United said on Tuesday it would in fact begin suspending flights to China in February due to the coronavirus, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said Tuesday it would be expanding health screenings to 20 US airports.