Malaysia to shut down several Top Glove factories in the midst of virus outbreaks in phases

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KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – After more than 2,000 workers tested positive, Malaysia will close some of Top Glove’s factories in stages as it moves to check employees for the novel coronavirus, authorities said on Monday.

Thanks to the pandemic, the world’s largest latex glove producer has racked up record profits this year on sky-rocketing demand for its goods and protective gear.

But after 2,453 employees tested positive for the virus, out of 5,767 screened, 28 factory buildings will be shut down in phases, said Director-General of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah.

To prevent infecting other employees, all those who tested positive were hospitalized and their near contacts were quarantined, Noor Hisham said.

The majority of the total 2,524 positive cases in the cluster were factory workers, with 2,360 foreigners and 164 Malaysians, he said.

On the advice and risk assessment of the Ministry of Health, Senior Security Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the government has decided that some of the Top Glove factories will be closed in stages to enable further screening and quarantine.

He did not say when, however the closures would begin.

Top Glove said in a stock exchange filing that since last Wednesday, production has temporarily stopped at 16 facilities in the region, with the balance of 12 facilities operating at much reduced capacity.

We have completed the full screening of our hostels for around 5,700 employees. We are committed to continuing with the COVID-19 screening test recommended by the (health ministry) for the balance (of) staff and employees at our factories in Meru, Klang, it said.

Last week, through Nov. 30, the government ordered 14-day curbs in parts of a district about 40 km (24.8 miles) west of the capital, Kuala Lumpur, where there are Top Glove factories and dormitories.

Analysts said the curbs did not alter the company’s earnings estimates, but if infections at the factories increase sharply and curbs are increased, they may re-assess predictions.

Since October, infections in Malaysia have been rising sharply, leading the government to tighten curbs on movement. On Monday, the cumulative cases increased to 56,659.

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