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(3rd LD) Kia halts 2 domestic plants following confirmed COVID-19 cases

All News 19:13 September 17, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES lead; ADDS details in para 4)

SEOUL, Sept. 17 (Yonhap) -- Kia Motors Corp., South Korea's second-biggest carmaker, said Thursday it has suspended two of its domestic plants as at least nine workers have been confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus.

Kia halted the operations of two plants in Gwangmyeong, just south of Seoul, from late Wednesday and sent all of the 6,000 plant workers home, a company spokesman said over the phone.

"As of 3:30 p.m., nine assembly line workers were confirmed to have been infected with the virus," he said.

So far, a total of 12 COVID-19 cases have been traced to the plants, including three family members of the workers.

The company will decide on when to resume the plants' operations depending on the health authorities' guidance, the spokesman said.

Kia produces the K9 flagship sedan, the Stinger sports car and the Carnival minivan at the No. 1 plant in Gwangmyeong and the Pride subcompact and the Stonic subcompact sport utility vehicle at the No. 2 plant.

The company is expected to suffer some production losses if the plant's suspension continues for several days. The two plants in Gwangmyeong have a combined capacity of 320,000 units a year.

It has received about 40,000 preorders for the all-new Carnival, which was launched last month.

Kia has eight plants in Korea -- two in Gwangmyeong, three in Hwaseong and three in Gwangju -- and seven overseas ones -- three in China and one each in the United States, Slovakia, Mexico and India. Their overall capacity is 3.84 million units.

This file photo shows Kia's Sohari plant in Gwangmyeong, just south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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