Coronavirus Update: Many Chinese Companies to Stay Closed at Least until February 17

About 10 days ago, I wrote a post about the impact of the coronavirus on manufacturing and shipping from China. At the time, we knew the Chinese New Year “holiday” was extended until February 10 in order for the authorities to contain the outbreak. That meant manufacturing would be impacted, and not much will ship from China during that time period. At the time, we were also told packages shipped from China were safe as it took several days and the virus would just die off on the way.

Coronavirus factory closed china

But there have been some updates since then. First, a new study shows the coronavirus may stay alive on surfaces like metal, glass or plastic for up to 9 days at room temperature. So I’m not sure what that means for packages sent via courier services like FedEx or DHL. The previous link offers some solutions:

… but can be efficiently inactivated by surface disinfection procedures with 62-71% ethanol, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite within 1 minute. Other biocidal agents such as 0.05-0.2% benzalkonium chloride or 0.02% chlorhexidine digluconate are less effective.

I’m not sure what the best solution, but maybe that’s something you’ll like to know.

The second change is that while I expected everybody to go back to work today, the government has asked businesses to stay closed for one more week. Here’s an email from Khadas:

As the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) continues to spread, Shenzhen and the adjacent cities within Guangdong province remain under health quarantine for the time being. Here are the latest updates for Khadas:

  1. Our office may re-open on 17th Feb, however this depends on the Shenzhen government.
  2. Order fulfilment is delayed. If you can’t wait, please contact our sales to cancel.
  3. We are really sorry for the inconvenience, and we hope to be back soon!

Separately, Teo Swee Ann, Espressif Systems CEO, posted a detailed update on medium saying they’ll only re-open their Shanghai office on February 17. Some of the highlights include:

  1. Many employees can still work from home. 40% of the staff have a company laptop, but they plan to have all employees been able to work from home would the situation deteriorate.
  2. They repatriated expats to their home country on January 27, who then self-quarantined for 10 days
  3. Chip manufacturing is unaffected because the foundry is located in Taiwan
  4. Module manufacturers in China are expected to start working on February 10 (not sure if that’s still true). He also noted partners use automated processes that require very little physical workforce, so it may explain why they have may restarted product as soon as today.

He goes into the reasoning behind all decisions, provides useful information about safety risk, how to mitigate, and how bad it would be if it goes out of control.

On a separate note, I also contacted a person based in the North of China earlier today. They haven’t worked since the 24th of January. They will get their full salary, but some others in the same industry will only get 70% of the salary, while others on contract have just been asked to go home. They live in an apartment, and when they get out they are checked for fever and asked if they feel sick. People who have a cold are sent to the hospital. They are also asked where they go and for how long. Sadly, people are also afraid to go to the hospital even for unrelated symptoms because they may contract the coronavirus at the hospital. Nobody believes the official government numbers, most people think they are underreported and believe there are tenths of thousands of death due to the coronavirus. Hopefully, this will get better very soon, although I’ve heard the peak is new cases may only come in March or April in China. Safety first, but this will certainly have a serious economic impact on China and the rest of the world for the next few quarters.

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