Samsung employees get sick, plant closes again

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Samsung employees get sick, plant closes again

Samsung Electronics has temporarily shut down its smartphone factory in Gumi, North Gyeongsang, for the second time since the coronavirus outbreak began, after a third employee tested positive for the virus this weekend.

The smartphone campus within the Gumi complex, which is responsible for production of the tech giant’s new Galaxy Z Flip and Galaxy S20 smartphones, will be closed through Monday and will remain partially closed until Tuesday afternoon, the company announced Sunday.

The Gumi complex consists of two campuses for network equipment and smartphones, located about 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) apart from one another. The network equipment campus exists for regional support and has no manufacturing facilities.

“We’re halting operations at the smartphone campus for disinfection until Sunday at 7 p.m. The floor the staff works on will be closed until Tuesday afternoon,” a Samsung spokesman said.

The latest employee to be confirmed infected is a 53-year-old man who works on the phone production line. He is the third worker at the complex to test positive for the potentially deadly virus, confirmed cases of which have exploded in the Daegu and North Gyeongsang areas. His wife and 29-year-old daughter also tested positive for the virus.

All three were followers of the Shincheonji church, a minor Christian sect that makes up a majority of the new coronavirus patients in Korea, according to Gumi’s regional government.

On Friday night, a Samsung employee who works on the network equipment campus became the second staff member to test positive but is awaiting the results of a second follow-up test, the company said. The man had come into contact with a coronavirus patient on Feb. 19. Samsung disinfected its Gumi campuses the day after the first round of test results arrived, along with its Suwon offices.

The Gumi complex’s first coronavirus patient was confirmed to have the virus Feb. 22. The infection of an employee at the smartphone factory prompted the factory’s first shutdown. The plant was fully reopened two days later.

Also on Saturday, a female cafeteria worker at Samsung’s chip plant in the Giheung District of Yongin, Gyeonggi, tested positive for the virus. While the cafeteria has been shut down until Tuesday, the chip production lines have continued running as usual, the company said. The woman was employed by a separate company that operates the cafeteria.

Separately, LG Display partially shut down its Gumi factory after an employee who works inside the complex’s bank was confirmed to be infected Saturday. The plant, which creates small- and mid-sized panels, as well as the building that houses the bank, will be closed until Tuesday.

BY KIM YOUNG-MIN AND SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]

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