Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf hailed the return of smartphone demand in China after a recent drop caused by the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, adding it is positioning itself to take advantage of expected rebounds in other markets.

In an interview with CNBC, Mollenkopf said handset activations in China plummeted at the end of January, but had recovered by the beginning of March.

The CEO told the news service “the demand and the activations” (people buying and turning phones on) had returned, reaching broadly “the same level” from the same point in 2019.

He added its OEM partners in Asia are prioritising “technologies that are good for Qualcomm,” including 5G, but said it’s too early to tell whether shipments of compatible smartphones would hit its forecast of 175 million to 225 million units in 2020.

Mollenkopf said Qualcomm does not believe the pandemic will impact its schedule for 5G products, adding development of the next-generation technology continues among employees working from home and with limited staff in laboratories.

The CEO noted the company is working with an eye to the future: “I think the biggest issue you have to be prepared for is when this thing snaps back it snaps back hard, and make sure you’re in a position to take advantage of it. And so we’re trying to do the best job we can to be prepared.”