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Major glove factories close after thousands of workers test positive for COVID-19

The largest rubber glove manufacturer in the world said this week that orders would be delayed by weeks and some of its factories would be shut down after thousands of its workers tested positive for COVID-19.

“To minimise the impact on our customers, we are allocating sales orders to unaffected factories and rescheduling deliveries where possible,” Top Glove Corp of Malaysia said in a statement.

According to the company, deliveries could be delayed by up to four weeks and new orders could take even longer.

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As Reuters notes in its report, shares of the company have shot up in value this year due to the high demand for personal protective equipment. The company commands a quarter of the global latex glove market.

Top Glove operates 47 factories across Asia, 36 of which produce gloves. It previously had to shut down 16 factories and reduce the capacity of 12 others. In its statement the company did not say how many factories would be affected by the new order.

Top Glove's production capacity will likely be reduced to 50 percent of what it normally produces, according to Malaysian Industrial Development Finance research analyst Ng Bei Shan.

Malaysia produces nearly two-thirds of all the rubber gloves in the world, according to the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association. The other two major glove manufacturers, Hartalega Holdings and Supermax Corp, are not believed to have the capacity to make up for the expected delay caused by Top Glove’s shutdowns.

Klang, a region just west of Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur where Top Glove’s factories and dormitories are located, has seen a surge of new cases according to the country’s health ministry.

In order to fight this cluster, the largest Malaysia has seen so far, the country erected barbed wire in front of the workers' hostels and set up checkpoints with police and soldiers.