The plant that was shut down makes the Palisade along with other SUV models.
SEOUL: A Hyundai Motor worker has tested positive for the new coronavirus, leading to a suspension of production at one its factories in South Korea’s south-eastern city of Ulsan, the company said today.
Shares of the automaker dropped more than 5% after the news, while the wider market was down 2.6%. The closing deals a fresh setback to Hyundai Motor, which has gradually resumed production at local plants hit by a Chinese parts shortage in the wake of the virus outbreak.
South Korea has the most infected people outside China, affecting companies like Samsung and Hyundai. South Korea today reported 256 new cases, bringing the total number of infected to 2,022.
There is no cure for the coronavirus, which can lead to pneumonia, and a vaccine may take up to 18 months to develop.
A union spokesman confirmed that a worker had tested positive, but he did not have more details.
“The company has also placed colleagues who came in close contact with the infected employee in self-quarantine and taken steps to have them tested for possible infection,” Hyundai Motor said in a news release. The company added that it was disinfecting the factory.
Ulsan is less than an hour from Daegu, the epicentre of outbreak in South Korea.
Hopes the coronavirus would be contained to China vanished today as infections spread rapidly around the world, countries started stockpiling medical equipment and investors took flight in expectation of a global recession.
Hyundai operates five car factories in Ulsan, which has an annual production capacity of 1.4 million vehicles, or nearly 30% of Hyundai’s global production. Hyundai employs 34,000 workers there in the world’s biggest car complex.
The factory that was shut down produces sport utility vehicles such as Palisade, Tucson, Santa Fe and Genesis GV80.
A factory run by Hyundai supplier Seojin Industrial had been closed after the death of a virus-infected worker there. It re-opened Wednesday.
"The coronavirus now looks like a pandemic. Markets can cope even if there is big risk as long as we can see the end of the tunnel,” said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.
“But at the moment, no one can tell how long this will last and how severe it will get.”