11/24/2020, 10.02
MALAYSIA
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Malaysia, world’s top latex glove producer closes due to Covid infections

At least 2500 infected employees out of 5800 tests for Top Glove, the world’s most important manufacturer of latex gloves. In recent months, record earnings due to the increase in demand for personal protective equipment. The conditions of the workers, mostly immigrants from Nepal, are being blamed. In the past the company was accused of labour exploitation by activists and NGOs.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The most important latex glove manufacturer in the world will have to close more than half of its factories after a mass screening revealed the infection of over 2,500 employees.

In an attempt to contain the infection, the Malaysian company Top Glove has been forced to stop the activity of at least 28 plants scattered throughout the territory.

This year, the company recorded a record turnover, a consequence of the skyrocketing worldwide demand for personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves and masks, with the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, following the announcement made this morning, the shares fell by 7.5%.

The Malaysian Ministry of Health has seen a dizzying growth of cases in the areas surrounding the factories and dormitories of Top Glove. The company, which has 41 centres across the country, has run a swab tracing test on 5,800 people; of these 2453 were positive. Most of its workers are immigrants from Nepal and live in precarious conditions in unhealthy and overcrowded dormitories.

Director general of the health department Noor Hisham Abdullah reports that "all the people who tested positive have been hospitalized and their closest contacts quarantined, to avoid further infections among workers".

In recent months, the Top Glove has been subjected to heavy criticism for the working conditions inside the factories. In July, the United States stopped imports of gloves at two branches, following allegations of forced labour with 72-hour work weeks, cramped living conditions and low wages.

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