Dramatic footage of workers purportedly fleeing one of the largest iPhone assembly factories in China due to a COVID-19 outbreak emerged online over the weekend.
Among the widely shared videos is a clip uploaded by BBC correspondent Stephen McDonell apparently showing employees climbing over fences of a facility owned by Foxconn, a major manufacturer for Apple, in the city of Zhengzhou.
Zhengzhou, the capital and largest city of Henan Province, recorded 167 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases from Oct. 23 to Oct. 29. The citywide outbreak, which resulted in the closure of surrounding shops and hotels, prompted Foxconn to force some of its workers into quarantine.
In a statement to The New York Times on Thursday, the company confirmed that a “small number of employees” had been asked to quarantine, without elaborating on details of the measures it implemented.
Foxconn added that they have been “progressing steadily” in controlling the outbreak and were able to provide all the needs of the quarantined employees, including “material supplies, psychological comfort and responsive feedback.”
While there are an estimated 200,000 workers at the Zhengzhou complex, it remains unclear how many workers were actually infected. As of this writing, not all the videos spreading on social media could be verified.
Local reports indicated that the fleeing Foxconn employees complained about the poor quality of food and claimed there was no sufficient medical care provided to those who tested positive.
In a more recent statement to Business Insider, Foxconn shared that the situation is currently stabilizing, noting that it has set up a 24-hour hotline for employees to assist with their needs.
“For some employees who want to return home, the park is cooperating with the government to organize personnel and vehicles to provide a point-to-point orderly return service for employees, from today,” the statement reads.
According to local media, the transportation was arranged a day after the viral videos circulated of fleeing workers emerged.
Surrounding cities have since started formulating plans to isolate the fleeing workers who may end up in their hometowns amid fears of further potential outbreaks.