World’s largest maker of PPE latex gloves shuts down half its factories after 2,500 employees are infected with coronavirus
- Malaysia’s Top Glove has stopped production at 28 factories amid virus outbreak
- The contagion contributed to Malaysia’s largest-ever spike in Covid-19 infections
- Top Glove has seen a huge jump in demand for its gloves during the pandemic
The world’s largest producer of PPE latex gloves is shutting down more than half of its factories after nearly 2,500 factory workers tested positive for coronavirus.
Malaysia’s Top Glove has seen a huge jump in demand since the start of the pandemic as countries scrambled to stock up on protective equipment.
But a cluster of virus cases has infected 2,453 workers and contributed to a record daily high of Covid-19 infections in Malaysia.
As a result, Top Glove has temporarily stopped production at 28 factories outside Kuala Lumpur – but producers say they do not anticipate a glove shortage.
A security guard stands outside a hostel for Top Glove factory workers in Shah Alam, Malaysia today after nearly 2,500 workers were infected with coronavirus
Malaysia’s health ministry reported 1,511 new cases in the area on Tuesday, although it did not specify how many of these were factory workers.
The cluster contributed to a record daily high of 2,188 cases nationwide, bringing Malaysia’s total cases to 58,847.
Battling the nation’s largest cluster since the pandemic began, authorities have put up barbed-wire fences in front of workers’ hostels.
The government ordered the plants to close on Monday and the factory workers will be tested and quarantined, Malaysia’s defence minister said.
Top Glove said in a statement it would ‘cooperate fully with the relevant authorities to implement the temporary stoppage’, and plant closures had begun.
About 5,700 workers have already been screened and the rest will also undergo tests, it said.
The company operates 47 factories, 41 of them in Malaysia, and many of its workers are from Nepal and live in crowded dormitory complexes.
A Top Glove worker inspects disposable gloves at a factory earlier in 2020, which has seen a huge surge in demand for protective gear because of the pandemic
Glove manufacturers have long been accused of mistreating migrant workers, and the United States in July banned the import of gloves from two Top Glove subsidiaries over concerns about forced labour.
The firm has about 16,000 factory employees in total, including at its plants in Thailand, China and Vietnam.
Top Glove can produce more than 70billion gloves a year and is a major global supplier along with other manufacturers in Malaysia.
The country makes nearly two-thirds of the world’s medical rubber gloves, helping companies such as Top Glove to post record profits.
Top Glove’s stock fell 7.5 per cent on Tuesday, and another three per cent on Wednesday, but industry leaders said there would be no shortage.
‘Be assured that new capacity is available to make good the interim shortfall and that there is not going to be any aggravated disruption to whatever is currently being supplied to the world,’ the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association said today.
Hartalega Holdings and Supermax Corp are Malaysia’s other two large manufacturers of rubber gloves.
Malaysia is battling a resurgent outbreak of the coronavirus which has infected more than 56,000 people and killed 337.