Samsung Electronics’ smartphone production facility in Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province, was shut down over the weekend due to a confirmed case of the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19, industry sources said Sunday.
The Gumi facility, 202 kilometers south of Seoul, consists of two production lines for network equipment and premium smartphones, including the latest Galaxy S20 series and the foldable Galaxy Z Flip.
A female employee in her 20s who worked on the smartphone line was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Saturday morning. According to reports, she visited Daegu on Feb. 16.
The tech giant sent a message to all employees across the country, notifying them that the Gumi plant would be shut down until Monday morning for disinfection and other preventive measures.
Since the Gumi plant is the only facility that produces smartphones mostly for the domestic market, the temporary shutdown raises concerns about supplies of the new phones.
The first batch of preordered Galaxy S20 devices is scheduled to be shipped out Thursday. The phones’ official launch date is March 6.
The Galaxy Z Flip, the foldable device that launched to much fanfare Feb. 14, is also manufactured in Gumi. While Samsung churns out over 90 percent of its smartphones for overseas markets in Vietnam, some of the smartphones produced at the Gumi plant are exported to other countries.
“Delays in delivery of unlocked phones that were ordered last week seem inevitable,” said a sales manager at a Samsung retail shop.
But the company said it would ensure smooth supplies of the devices by keeping the lines operating longer than usual in the coming week.
“The shutdown was limited to the weekend, which had limited impact on productivity,” said a Samsung official. “There won’t be any problem in supplying (phones).”
Industry insiders say the COVID-19 outbreak could have a greater impact than expected on sales.
All three mobile carriers in South Korea have canceled offline events to promote the new Samsung smartphones. Some were replaced with online events.
Samsung has also scaled back hands-on events to promote its latest devices.
During a press conference held Feb. 11 after the Samsung Unpacked event in San Francisco, the company’s mobile business head, Roh Tae-moon, pledged to minimize the impact of the disease on supplies of the Galaxy S20 and Z Flip.
“So far, we can’t say we have no difficulty in terms of supply chain management,” Roh said. “We will keep monitoring closely and do our best to minimize the impact on the new products.”
By Song Su-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)