Makers of Most of World's Medical Gloves Running at 50%

Malaysia is by far the world’s largest medical glove supplier
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 26, 2020 11:55 AM CDT
Makers of Most of World's Medical Gloves Running at 50%
A woman reaches for yogurt wearing gloves during senior shopping hours at Homeland in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Homeland stores are reserving the first hour of store operations to senior customers and those who have medical conditions that put them at risk from COVID-19.   (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Malaysia's medical glove factories, which make most of the world's critical hand protection, are operating at half capacity just when they're most needed, the AP has learned. Health care workers snap gloves on as the first line of protection against catching COVID-19 from patients, and they're crucial to protecting patients as well. But medical-grade glove supplies are running low globally. Malaysia is by far the world’s largest medical glove supplier, producing as many as three out of four gloves on the market. The industry has a history of mistreating migrant workers who toil over hand-sized molds as they're dipped in melted latex or rubber, hot and exhausting work.

The Malaysian government ordered factories to halt all manufacturing starting March 18. Then, one by one, those that make products deemed essential, including medical gloves, have been required to seek exemptions to reopen, but only with half of their workforce to reduce the risk of transmitting the new virus, according to industry reports and insider sources. The government says companies must meet domestic demand before exporting anything. Bloomberg reports the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association on Thursday is asking for an exception so that it can run at 100%. It says its members have received requests for millions of gloves from about 190 countries. Read the full story for much more on the situation.

(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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