Taiwan tech sector hit by COVID-19 outbreak

Taiwan tech sector hit by COVID-19 outbreak

Taiwan emerged largely unscathed from the pandemic last year but is now battling a sudden
Taiwan emerged largely unscathed from the COVID-19 pandemic last year but is now battling a sudden outbreak. (Photo: AFP/Sam Yeh)

TAIPEI: A leading Taiwanese chip testing and packaging company said on Monday (Jun 7) that all its migrant employees have been suspended from working for around two weeks to contain a coronavirus outbreak.

At least 206 employees, mostly migrant workers, at facilities run by King Yuan Electronics Company in northern Miaoli county have tested positive, according to the government.

The cluster is the first major outbreak in Taiwan's semiconductor industry, which is operating at full capacity to meet a worldwide shortage.

READ: Taiwan to extend COVID-19 curbs, schools to stay shut

King Yuan employs more than 7,000 people, including around 2,100 migrants, and counts some top international tech firms as clients, such as Intel, Qualcomm and Nvidia.

King Yuan said in a filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange that its June output and revenue are expected to drop 30 to 35 per cent due to the suspension of work.

Local media raised concerns that the suspension could impact the global chip shortage as King Yuan's business is a key final step in the semiconductor supply chain.

READ: Taiwan chip packager King Yuan to halt output after COVID-19 cases at factory

Two other tech firms in Miaoli have also reported infection clusters and suspended migrant workers.

Taiwan's semiconductor factories have been struggling to plug a pandemic-driven shortage of chips that power essential electronic devices.

The water-intensive facilities are running at full capacity, even as Taiwan suffers its worst drought in decades, although recent heavy rains have brought some temporary relief.

READ: Why is there a global chip shortage and why should you care?

Taiwan emerged largely unscathed from the pandemic last year with just a few hundred cases and single-digit deaths thanks to one of the world's best coronavirus responses.

But it is now battling a sudden outbreak. Infections have jumped to more than 11,000 with 286 deaths in more than a month after a cluster initially detected among airline pilots spread.

The government announced on Monday that strict social distancing restrictions, including closing public venues and schools, would be extended to Jun 28.

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Source: AFP/dv