I’m sure you’ve heard of the crazy coronavirus epidemic that’s rapidly spreading around the world, and has now been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization.
One of the areas that has been hardest hit by the virus is the city of Wuhan, on the Yangtze River in east-central China. Wuhan went into a state of lockdown on January 23rd, with businesses closed and everyone told to stay home and avoid contact with other people.
China is taking this threat extremely seriously, responding on a scale that I don’t think would be possible in any other country. I don’t know of anywhere else in the world that could build entire 1000-bed hospitals from the ground up in 6 days, just to respond to a sudden medical need. If anyone can face a challenge like this, it’s the Chinese.
The primary focus has to be on the health of those in the affected areas, of course. So far I haven’t heard of any of my Chinese colleagues being infected, and I hope it stays that way.
Bare PCBs for both Freetronics and SuperHouse products are mostly produced by Gold Phoenix, which is located in Wuhan, right in the bullseye of the epidemic. Like almost all businesses in Wuhan, Gold Phoenix has told workers to stay home and stay safe.
Some of our prototype PCBs are produced in factories around the city of Shenzhen, in southern China just over the border from Hong Kong. Those factories are currently closed too.
Our PCBA (PCB Assembly, which includes pick-and-place installation of parts on the boards) and final testing and packaging is done in Beijing, which has now also gone into lockdown. Not only are factories closed, but roads out of the cities have been closed to prevent the spread of infection so any boards that have aleady been produced are stuck in warehouses.
There are currently batches of EtherMega and EtherTen boards that were scheduled to ship a few days ago, but they are now caught up in the lockdown and can’t leave Beijing.
So over the next little while there will probably be stock problems for both Freetronics and SuperHouse. Please be patient while I do my best to assemble what I can using local stock of bare PCBs and parts, and keep in mind the millions of people who are now stuck at home with dwindling food supplies. It may be frustrating that products are out of stock, but that’s really not important when the health of so many people is at stake.