Saturday, January 23, 2021

Top Glove becomes the epicenter of Malaysia’s Covid resurgence

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SINGAPORE — Top Glove, the world’s largest medical glove maker, has shut 20 manufacturing sites in Malaysia after thousands of workers tested positive for Covid-19.

A total of 2,684 Top Glove employees — most of them foreign workers — have tested positive as of Wednesday, local media reported, citing Malaysia’s Senior Minister for Security and Minister of Defence Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

That’s by far the largest cluster of new infections in the Southeast Asian country, where a resurgence in cases forced the government to reimpose a fresh round of partial lockdown measures, according to data by Malaysia’s health ministry.

Authorities in the country are testing all Top Glove workers in the affected factories and dormitories for the coronavirus. Minister of International Trade and Industry Mohamed Azmin Ali told CNBC on Thursday that the government hopes to “mitigate this problem within next two weeks.”  

“It is very unfortunate that recently, there (were) some issues in terms of the positive cases recorded at the factories,” he told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia.”

Azmin pointed out that Top Glove was one of companies allowed to continue with full operations throughout Malaysia’s lockdown, given its importance to both the local and global markets.

The company has seen an increase in demand for its products as a result of the pandemic. That contributed to a surge in the price of its shares.

Shares of Top Glove listed in Malaysia and Singapore dipped following announcements of its factory closures, but they are still up by more than 300% so far this year in both markets, data by Refinitiv showed.

Top Glove said in a Wednesday statement that some 5,700 of its workers have been tested for the virus, and screening of the remaining employees may be completed by end of this week.  

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