The world’s largest maker of latex gloves will shut more than half of its factories after almost 2500 employees tested positive for coronavirus.
Malaysia’s Top Glove will close down 28 plants in phases as it seeks to control the outbreak, authorities said.
The company has seen record profits this year as demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) surged around the world.
Shares in Top Glove fell by 7.5 percent on Tuesday after the announcement.
Malaysia’s health ministry has reported a sharp rise in cases in areas where Top Glove factories and dormitories are located.
Nearly 5800 workers have been screened so far with 2453 testing positive, it said.
Top Glove operates 41 factories in Malaysia with many of its workers coming from Nepal and living in crowded dormitory complexes.
“All those who tested positive have been hospitalised and their close contacts have been quarantined to avoid infecting other workers,” Director-General of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah told Reuters news agency.
It was unclear when the factory closures would begin.
Top Glove has been in the spotlight for its working conditions in recent months.
In July, the United States banned the import of gloves from two of the firm’s subsidiaries over allegations of forced labour.
A recent report from the US Department of Labour also raised these concerns, pointing to the high recruitment fees overseas migrant workers must pay to secure employment in the rubber glove industry which often results in debt bondage.
In September, migrant workers told the Los Angeles Times about difficult working conditions at Top Glove factories, describing 72-hour work weeks, cramped living conditions and low wages.
A few weeks later, Top Glove said it had raised it remediation payments to compensate its migrant workers for recruitment fees after recommendations from an independent consultant.