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China locks down area around world's biggest iPhone factory due to COVID outbreak

COVID-19 Test In Zhengzhou
A medical worker sitting on a mobile nucleic acid sampling tricycle takes a swab sample from a resident for COVID-19 nucleic acid test on October 31, 2022 in Zhengzhou, China. Liu Xu/VCG via Getty Images

Beijing — Access to an industrial zone in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou was suspended Wednesday after the city reported dozens of coronavirus cases and workers who assemble Apple Inc. iPhones left their factory in the zone following outbreaks.

The announcement didn't say whether the isolation of the Zhengzhou Airport Economic Zone was related to cases at the Foxconn factory. It gave no indication of what prompted the closure. It said no one can enter or leave for one week except to deliver food and medical supplies.

 The Zhengzhou plant is the world's biggest iPhone factory, according to Agency France-Presse.

The lockdown affects some 600,000 people, AFP says.

Separately, the government reported 64 confirmed cases had been found in Zhengzhou over the past 24 hours. It said 294 asymptomatic cases also had been found in the city of 12.5 million. It didn't say how many were in the industrial zone.

The ruling Communist Party is enforcing a "Zero COVID" policy that has closed areas throughout China for weeks to try to isolate every case.

That's kept China's infection rate relatively low but has disrupted trade and business at a time when other countries are easing anti-virus curbs. Public frustration with the restrictions has boiled over into fights with police in some areas.

In Zhengzhou, everyone in the industrial zone will be tested every day for the coronavirus, the Airport District said. It didn't say how many people might be affected.

Areas throughout China tightened restrictions on movement and canceled airline flights last month after new infections surged following the weeklong National Day holiday.

Residents of many parts of the Xinjiang region in the northwest were barred from leaving their homes in August and September. People in Urumqi and other cities who said they'd run out of food and medicine posted appeals for help on social media.

Thousands of employees left the Foxconn Technology Group factory starting in mid-October after complaints that people who contracted the virus received no treatment. Some accused the company of failing to enforce measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

AFP says images were posted on Chinese social media last week showing people "breaking out of the facility."

Foxconn, a Taiwanese tech giant, said Sunday it was using "closed loop management," an official term for employees living at their workplace and avoiding contact with the outside. The company said ill employees were being treated but didn't say if new infections still were occurring.

Also this week, visitors to Shanghai Disneyland were temporarily barred from leaving as part of virus testing the city government said Tuesday had extended to 439,000 people. The city health agency said visitors on Monday tested negative and were allowed to leave.

Last week, 1.3 million residents of Shanghai's downtown Yangpu district were ordered to stay at home while they were tested.

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