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Author Topic: Maker of Medical Gloves Warns of Global Shortage  (Read 7029 times)

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Maker of Medical Gloves Warns of Global Shortage
« on: March 27, 2020, 01:38:44 PM »

Rubber glove makers in Malaysia, the world’s top supplier of medical gloves, are warning of a global shortage owing to the government’s partial lockdown of the country, just as coronavirus-driven demand is soaring worldwide.

Malaysia meets more than half of global demand for the gloves.

The country, however, has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia, at 1,796.  It issued a "movement control order" March 18 and extended it Wednesday through April 14 in hopes of slowing its infection rate. International and domestic travel is restricted, and nonessential businesses have been ordered closed.

The Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association said March 25 that with the lockdown’s orders that factories operate with no more than half their usual workforce, even with extra overtime, "there could be a chronic shortage of medical gloves in the battle to contain and suppress the COVID-19 coronavirus worldwide."

Association president Denis Low said the factory owners were lobbying the International Trade and Industry Ministry to let them return to full capacity and would meet with ministry officials March 26.

"We have to operate fully simply because we need to take care of Malaysia, firstly, and we need to take care of the world. We are the largest producer and we feel it is ... our duty to save humanity, and we are going to do that," he told VOA.

Low said the association's roughly 200 factories churned out 187 billion gloves last year and were expecting the coronavirus outbreak to swell demand by 20% or more. While some factories were compensating for the staffing cuts by speeding up the production process, he estimated that typical daily production numbers were still down 20% to 30%.

He disputed a claim that some factories were breaking the government's order to cut staff by 50%.

Andy Hall, a labor rights activist with extensive experience in Malaysia, told VOA that he had spoken with workers at some of the country's glove factories March 25 who said that most of their colleagues were back on the job already.

"I wouldn't know about that," Low said of the claim.


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