Volkswagen, Ford halt factories as virus hits workers

"We hoped that the situation regarding the coronavirus would calm down over the weekend, but that did not happen," Volkswagen Slovakia Chairman of the Board Oliver Grunberg said in a statement, commenting on the general spread of the outbreak. [Kārlis Dambrāns / Flickr]

Carmakers are taking measures to weather the impact of the coronavirus, with Volkswagen and Ford both announcing temporary suspension of production at factories in Europe amid reported cases of coronavirus among their workforce.

Volkswagen is preparing to suspend operations at its manufacturing plant in Bratislava, the company said on Sunday, after Slovakia declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrinim said earlier on Sunday that there was a potential coronavirus case at the plant, which is the county’s largest private sector employer.

VW did not comment on whether that was the case, but said it would begin a shut-down process on Monday.

“We hoped that the situation regarding the coronavirus would calm down over the weekend, but that did not happen,” Volkswagen Slovakia Chairman of the Board Oliver Grunberg said in a statement, commenting on the general spread of the outbreak.

Earlier on Sunday, Slovakia declared a state of emergency to contain the coronavirus outbreak. Slovakia has 61 confirmed coronavirus cases, up 17 from a day earlier. The country has reported no deaths.

Meanwhile Ford said on Sunday it would shut its Spanish plant in the eastern region of Valencia for one week starting on Monday after three employees tested positive for coronavirus.

“We have had three positive cases of COVID-19 in the Ford Valencia plant in the past 24 hours,” the company said, adding it was following protocol by isolating all employees that had contact with the infected workers.

The plant, one of Ford’s largest outside the United States, employs over 7,000 workers and produces over 400,000 vehicles a year including the Mondeo and Galaxy models.

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