World's biggest glove maker shuts 28 Malaysia factories after Covid-19 infections

Top Glove's worker dormitories in Klang and its surrounding areas are currently under Enhanced Movement Control Order curbs. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian glove maker Top Glove will suspend operations in 28 of its factories in Klang, in Selangor, after more than two thousand employees tested positive for Covid-19.

Senior Minister (Security cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Monday (Nov 23) the closure would allow for the testing and quarantining of workers at the world's largest glove manufacturer.

"I am made to understand that today alone, there are 1,067 positive cases. On the advice of the health ministry, today's meeting has agreed to close these 28 Top Glove factories in Klang in stages to enable the workers to undergo testing and quarantine," the minister told a news conference.

A total of 1,889 positive cases had been recorded as at Monday, he added.

Health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah told a separate news conference later that a total of 5,767 people in the Top Glove factory-linked cluster had been tested and 2,524 were confirmed to have Covid-19.

Of these, 2,453 patients are factory workers, while 71 are close contacts, including a two-year-old.

Most of those infected or 2,360 of them are non-citizens and the remaining 164 are Malaysians.

Top Glove's worker dormitories in Klang and its surrounding areas are currently under the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO). The curbs will be in effect until the end of this month after 215 Covid-19 cases were reported on Nov 15.

Under the EMCO, no one will be allowed to enter or leave the area for 14 days while health officials conduct intense health screenings. Food and medicines are distributed to people inside the lockdown area.

While the EMCO on Top Glove's dormitories involves some 5,900 workers, Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham noted that the glove maker employed around 13,000 workers, including those who live outside of the lockdown area.

Nine of Malaysia's 13 states and its three federal territories - Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan - are now under a partial lockdown called Conditional MCO (CMCO) as the government tries to come to grips with a third wave of Covid-19 cases in the last two months.

Under the CMCO, inter-district travel is restricted to emergencies or for work, and mass gatherings are banned.

Malaysia registered a new daily high of 1,884 Covid-19 infections on Monday with two new deaths, bringing the death toll to 337.

Previously, the record for infections in a single day was 1,755 on Nov 6.

Selangor recorded the most cases out of all states, with 1,203 infections. Sabah recorded 289 cases, while Kuala Lumpur saw 196 cases.

Top Glove makes 220 million disposable rubber gloves daily, and the company's value has multiplied by at least six times this year - making it the second-largest listed company in Malaysia - due to a sharp increase in demand during the pandemic.

Shares in the company fell 10 per cent on Nov 17 after the tightened movement curbs were first announced.

On Monday, the shares were up marginally from Friday's closing following its listing on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices under the Emerging Markets category.

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