The world’s largest manufacturer of surgical gloves is temporarily closing more than half of its factories despite record demand – as more than 1,000 employees are positive for the coronavirus, authorities said Monday.
Top Glove in Malaysia garnered record profits this year as demand for protective equipment jumped sharply during the pandemic.
But more than 1,000 workers tested positive for coronavirus on Monday, accounting for most of the country’s record jump and forcing the company to agree to temporarily close 28 of its 41 Malaysian plants.
A total of at least 2,500 cases are related to the area’s cluster, officials said.
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“Based on advice from the Ministry of Health, it was agreed at a special meeting today to close 28 Top Glove factories … in stages so that workers can pass tests and quarantine,” Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Jakob told Monday.
Top Glove said in a statement that it would “cooperate fully with the relevant enforcement authorities” and that plant closures have begun.
About 5,700 workers have already been screened, and the rest will also be tested, the statement said.
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Top Glove did not say how the closures would affect its ability to fulfill orders. The company is typically able to produce 70 billion gloves a year.
Many of the company’s workers are from Nepal and live in crowded dormitories.