Bloomberg reported that “The workers, known as Geniuses, were advised in a memo that they can offer to mail replacement iPhones to customers and provide loaner devices to ease delays.”
It went onto say that other employees have noticed a shortage of individual parts as well as the replacement iPhones. Geniuses will often attempt to repair iPhones with such spare parts when someone comes in with a faulty device, before potentially reverting to issuing them a replacement.
Much of the supply chain and manufacturing of iPhones happens in China where the virus originated. It is one of the first sings that Tim Cook's famously ludicrously efficient supply chain is finally seeing the knock on effect that is inevitable from a worldwide event like a viral outbreak.
Official Apple retail stores in China are only just reopening after all 42 were closed.