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Samsung and LG pause manufacturing over Covid-19 fears

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Diagnoses of the novel coronavirus Covid-19 in an industrial complex in South Korea has forced electronics giants Samsung and LG to close their factories temporarily.

According to The Korea Herald, Samsung closed its assembly line at its smartphone factories in the Gumi industrial complex in the east of South Korea. The factory, which manufactures handsets like the flagship Galaxy S20 series and the folding Galaxy Z Flip (primarily for the domestic market), put a pause on operations after an employee was diagnosed with Covid-19. Operations are expected to restart this week.

The same factory was forced to close briefly last week after a separate diagnosis of Covid-19.

Although there have been concerns among retailers that the scheduled launch of the S20 series and Z Flip (6 March) will be delayed on account of these closures, Samsung has played down the possibility. It said that it plans to ramp up production in the following days to ensure that there would be sufficient supplies ready for its domestic launch.

The majority of Samsung phones are now manufactured in Vietnam, which has celebrated some success in combating spread of the infection; all 16 patients diagnosed so far in the country have been cured.

Meanwhile, LG’s subsidiaries have also taken precautionary measures to minimise the risk of coronavirus transmission in its South Korean facilities. The Korea Herald reported that LG Innotek (which supplies camera modules for Apple) has suspended operations at its Gumi site today after an employee tested positive for the virus, forcing the company to close its factory for disinfection.

LG Innotek plans to resume operations tomorrow.

Samsung and LG’s affected factories are located in the Gumi industrial complex near Daegu, where more than 70 per cent of the country’s recent coronavirus infections have been confirmed.

Market analysis company IDC has revised its global smartphone shipment forecasts, predicting that the Covid-19 outbreak will cause a 2.3 per cent decline on shipments from 2019. Previously, it had expected the market to grow 1.5 per cent this year on account of strong demand for 5G devices in China. Highly-anticipated smartphone launches, including the Galaxy S20 series and Apple’s iPhone 12 series, are expected to be delayed this year due to measures taken across company supply chains to minimise the risk of transmission.

Mobile World Congress became the first major tech event to fall victim to coronavirus, with the vast Barcelona-based mobile trade show cancelled after high-profile vendors withdrew over concerns about the virus. Since then, both the Geneva Motor Show and Facebook’s F8 developer conference have been called off, while the Game Developer Conference has been postponed, with Microsoft and Epic Games having already pulled out.

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