Outbreak at Chinese-owned factory shows challenges of easing India’s lockdown

Tuesday, 19 May 2020 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

NEW DELHI (Reuters): Chinese smartphone maker OPPO suspended operations at a recently reopened plant in India after workers tested positive for the coronavirus, an official said yesterday, underlining the challenges of easing a near two-month nationwide lockdown.

The factory, located on the outskirts of capital New Delhi, had received Government permission to resume production, the company said on 7 May, as part of a gradual relaxation of the shutdown that began on 25 March.

OPPO had said it would resume manufacturing with 30% of its workforce, but a district official said that when the company tested its workers prior to production restarting, half a dozen people were positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“Reports came of about six positive cases,” Deep Chandra, senior official at the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority, which oversees the area where the plant is based, told Reuters in brief comments.

Chandra said district authorities had instructed the company to test its workers again and that operations were currently suspended.

OPPO said in a statement late on Sunday that operations at the plant were suspended and that it would only allow employees with negative test results to resume work.

A spokeswoman did not answer questions about the company’s plans and when specifically operations had been suspended.

Experts, including those directly advising the Government, say that coronavirus cases will rise in coming weeks as India’s lockdown is eased, and authorities have repeatedly told companies resuming operations to ensure that social distancing and other measures are taken to prevent infections.