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Malaysian company predicts global condom shortage under coronavirus lockdown

Malaysian brand Karex Berhad produces one in every five condoms globally [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 March, 2020

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Malaysian company Karex Berhad, the world's biggest condom producer, said a global shortage of condoms will arise due to coronavirus restrictions disrupting the company's operations.

The world's biggest producer of condoms, a Malaysian company, said a global shortage of condoms is looming, Reuters reported on Friday, after a Covid-19 lockdown forced it to halt production.

Malaysian brand Karex Berhad produces one in every five condoms globally. Its products are supplied to high-profile clients such as Durex, the UK's NHS and the UN Population Fund, according to Reuters.

The company has not produced any more condoms in over a week after its three national factories were shut down under the country's state-imposed lockdown.

The setback led to a production deficit of 100 million condoms.

The company was granted permission to restart production on Friday under an exemption for critical industries, but with only 50% of its workforce.

Karex Berhad Chief Executive Goh Miah Kiat told Reuters jumpstarting the factories will take some time, and there will be a struggle to keep up with demand at half capacity.

"We are going to see a global shortage of condoms everywhere, which is going to be scary," he told Reuters. "My concern is that for a lot of humanitarian programs deep down in Africa, the shortage will not just be two weeks or a month. That shortage can run into months."

Producers of other critical items, such as medical gloves, have also faced disruptions in their Malaysian operations.

"The good thing is that the demand for condoms is still very strong because like it or not, it’s still an essential to have," Goh said. "Given that at this point in time people are probably not planning to have children. It’s not the time, with so much uncertainty."

According to Reuters, Malaysia is Southeast Asia’s worst affected country, with 2,161 coronavirus infections and 26 deaths. The nationwide lockdown is due to remain in place at least until April 14.

This week, Malaysia's king and queen have gone into self-quarantine following reports that seven national palace staff members tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to state media.

Officials said the royal couple tested negative for COVID-19.

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