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Matsushita Closes Two China Plants Due to SARS
May 20, 2003
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Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., maker of Panasonic brand appliances, said on Tuesday it had halted operations at two of its plants in China after five local employees were found to be infected with the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus.

The two plants are Beijing Matsushita Color CRT Co. Ltd. (BMCC), which manufactures cathode-ray tubes (CRT) and has 5,200 employees, and Beijing Matsushita Lighting Co. Ltd. (BMLC), a producer of fluorescent lamps with 420 staff.

The plants were closed on the evening of May 17, and the Japanese company hopes to resume operations around May 27 after getting approval from local health authorities.

The consumer electronics maker expects little impact from the closures, as it will either boost production at the plants when they reopen or at plants outside China to cover any shortfall, a spokeswoman said.

BMCC produces 7.5 million CRTs annually, while BMLC produces 28 million fluorescent lights.

China has been among the countries hardest hit by SARS, with 294 deaths and 5,248 infections.

The spokeswoman said the patients include four workers at BMCC and one at BMLC. Eight other employees suspected to be infected with SARS are being kept in isolation.

Matsushita, whose Chinese operations take in 53 affiliates and 51,000 employees, said it has sterilized the two plants under instructions of the Beijing health authorities. (Reuters)

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