Business

Coronavirus: Chinese workers offered free transport

Health workers screen travellers for coronavirus symptoms Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Health workers at a railway station in China's Guizhou province screen travellers

China wants workers to quickly return to factories in areas less affected by the coronavirus.

That has led companies and the government to step into the breach and provide free transport back to work.

Millions of workers were furloughed at the end of January to battle the spread of the virus.

So governments and businesses are paying for planes, trains and buses to help them return to work.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Sunday that factories in areas of low risk of infection should reopen.

But workers have been struggling to find transport from traditional holiday visits home which has led local governments and companies to lend a hand.

This week two municipal governments have paid for 170 stranded workers to take a charter flight to jobs in the coastal city of Yiwu from Hanzhong in central China, a journey covering more than 1,500 kilometres.

Another city, Taizhou, has offered to reimburse workers for fares spent on chartered buses or fast trains. The business hub of Shanghai and capital Beijing have also hired shuttle buses to bring workers back from the countryside.

Tens of millions of workers have been stranded after returning home during Chinese New Year celebrations.

Many employees have not been paid during the forced breaks but are desperate to return to work. Travel restrictions have prevented them from doing so.

This has left manufacturers such as Hon Hai, better known as Foxconn, without enough workers to make Apple iPhones and other electronic goods.

Last week, Apple warned investors it would miss production and revenue targets as supplies of key products were "temporarily constrained" by factory shutdowns in China. Its Apple stores have also been closed for much of February.

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