Coronavirus, Wuhan and the display industry

January 29, 2020 //By Ross Young
Coronavirus
The coronavirus is a terrible disease that can be spread before people exhibit symptoms, making early detection difficult. It has come about at the worst possible time given the massive travel that occurs during the Chinese New Year holiday. More than 100 people have already died and over 4400 people have been infected worldwide. The disease has already been detected in at least a dozen countries.

Studies have shown that the coronavirus was first detected in the city of Wuhan and is close to the SARS-related coronaviruses found in Chinese horseshoe bats. It is believed to be connected to a wet market where game animals and meat are sold. The outbreak was first reported on December 31st and took 3 full weeks for authorities to realize the seriousness of the virus which was initially thought to be mild and could not be passed between humans. Now, it is believed that it is an airborne virus that can be moved from person to person and has an incubation period as long as 14 days, meaning it can take that long before you actually get sick. For those 3 weeks, medical staff were treating patients without proper protection. 15 hospital staff in Wuhan contracted the virus with 14 infected by just one patient. A scientific assessment of the spread of the disease with an optimistic 90% quarantine predicted 1500 deaths and 59,000 infections, twice the toll of the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak.

Wuhan is a city of 11 million people and was the first city quarantined. Surrounding cities are also now quarantined resulting in a total of 50M unable to travel. Wuhan is also quickly becoming a major hub for display manufacturing with LCD and OLED fabs already in production and a few more starting production in 2020. In 2020, Wuhan is expected to account for 6% of worldwide mobile OLED capacity, 3% of mobile LCD capacity and 2% of LCD TV capacity. In 2021, these figures should rise to 9% of mobile OLED capacity and 4% of LCD TV capacity.

The mayor of Wuhan revealed that 5M of the 11M have left Wuhan for Chinese New Year and cannot return until the travel ban is lifted. Thus, the companies making displays are not sure what their headcount will be when their factories re-open on January 30th. The re-opening date will likely be delayed at least another week.

The companies with display manufacturing operations in Wuhan including China Star and Tianma in mobile displays and BOE in LCD TV panels . Corning also has a glass melting plant next to BOE’s G10.5 LCD TV fab.


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