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Rubber-glove Producers in Malaysia
« on: April 08, 2020, 06:46:21 AM » - Rubber-glove producers in Malaysia urged the government Wednesday to exempt them from an extended nationwide lockdown, warning of “a chronic shortage” of the product as they struggle with reduced manpower amid surging worldwide demand from hospitals battling the coronavirus.

The Malaysian Rubber Gloves Manufacturers Association (MARGMA) – the world’s largest maker of medical gloves – made the appeal as Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that his government was extending the coronavirus lockdown until mid-April.

“It is the demand from the rest of the world that is going to be very challenging as there is the MCO, whereby rubber glove manufacturers are allowed to operate with just 50% of its original work force,” the group said, using the acronym for the Movement Control Order, which had an initial cutoff point on March 31, but was extended until April 14.

“This will mean only half of the normal quantity of gloves to be produced and it could really cause a chronic shortage to the world,” the association said.

Malaysia’s rubber gloves makers had previously complained that the pandemic had also led to shutdowns of manufacturers of carton boxes, which made it difficult for MARGMA members to ship their products.

Earlier in the day, the nation’s health authorities had confirmed 172 new cases of COVID-19 infections, bringing the Malaysian total to 1,796, with 17 deaths. The Muslim-majority nation remained the country with the third-highest caseload in Asia, behind China and South Korea.

The urgent need for more disposable gloves was underscored Tuesday when the United States lifted an order it imposed in September 2019 on Malaysian gloves maker WRP Asia Pacific Sdn. Berhad, which had faced allegations that its production involved forced-labor conditions.

Customs authorities blocked those products at the same time that clothes produced by an apparel manufacturer in China’s Xinjiang region were suppressed from reaching the U.S. market.

To halt the COVID-19 transmission by preventing direct human contact, Prime Minister Muhyiddin said in a live televised address that he would prolong the nation’s lockdown until April 14.

“The trend of new positive COVID-19 cases is still happening, and the trend is expected to continue for some time until it starts to decline,” he said. “I was briefed by the National Security Council that we can see a higher number of new cases if we don’t act quickly.”

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