Automakers, suppliers, China Inc. struggle as COVID cases spike


Shanghai — like a giant wave in China COVID-19 infection start marching in a country roughly the size of Europe, the ripple effect on business will accelerate.

From its initial epicenter in the north, including the capital Beijing, COVID-19 infections have spread across the country, with cases hampering workforces in the manufacturing belt, including the Yangtze River Delta near Shanghai.

According to international business organizations operating in China, the retail and financial services industries have been hit hard by the shortage of workers, with automakers and other manufacturers not far behind.

“The retail and customer-facing sectors face serious challenges. Clearly, many of the larger retailers are keeping their doors open as they have limited staff available to work due to illness.” said Noah Fraser of the Canadian China Business Council.

Official data can no longer reliably capture the number of new cases as mass testing was halted after China abruptly withdrew its zero-coronavirus policy earlier this month.As of Wednesday, the country had reported only 5,241 cases COVID-19 (new coronavirus infectious disease) The number of deaths since the pandemic began.

But some estimates predict that the wave currently sweeping the country could infect up to 60% of China’s 1.4 billion-strong population.

“Case numbers are starting to creep outside of the big cities, which of course means that the virus is moving, and we will see more chaos in the future,” Fraser said.

China had to build a makeshift fever clinic in Beijing after hospitals were overwhelmed with cases in the first days of the outbreak.

back to work

Chinese workers with mild COVID-19 have been told to return to work in some cities. This marks a complete reversal of the virus view as officials seek to limit the economic impact of the explosion as the country reopens.

Government employees in the western metropolis of Chongqing were told to continue working if they were asymptomatic or experiencing mild COVID symptoms, officials said over the weekend. Officials in cities in China’s east coast manufacturing hub Zhejiang and nearby Anhui also gave the go-ahead to COVID-positive people to work this week, according to local media reports.

As the initial outburst of infections appears to have subsided, Beijing has told workers they do not have to prove negative to return to work as long as they are in home isolation for a week. ing.

Other companies in China are looking to limit the spread within their factories, with a view to critical year-end production targets. Volkswagen The group is asking workers who are not infected with the virus to work long hours at one of its factories in southern China, leaving many sick with the virus. .

SES AI Corp., which develops lithium metal batteries Electric car, also trying to keep its manufacturing facility in Shanghai running. The factory there has about 100 staff, the majority of whom are infected with COVID, a spokesperson said Wednesday. To keep the site running, SES is splitting worker shifts, with COVID-infected employees working Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and non-infected employees working Tuesdays and Thursdays. I’m here.

Companies such as Foxconn Technology Co. and automakers Geely Keeping employees in a closed loop as the COVID wave spreads. The system ensures that employees are locked on the factory campus and is regularly tested to keep the virus out.

Even before the COVID-19 infection began to affect Chinese businesses, the world’s second largest economy was already weighed down by efforts to eradicate the epidemic. Strict travel restrictions and repeated lockdowns hampered consumption and production.

China’s factory output and retail sales hit their worst in six months in November, before most COVID restrictions were lifted in early December.

Retail sales fell 5.9% last month amid widespread weakness in the services sector, while car production fell 9.9%, dropping from an 8.6% rise in October.



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