COVID-19: Condom shortage looms after Malaysia lockdown

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A global shortage of condoms is happening as the world’s largest manufacturer was forced to shut down production due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Goh Miah Kiat, the Chief Executive of Karex Bhd, the Malaysian company that makes one in every five condoms globally told Reuters about his fears of an impending global shortage of condoms.

“We are witnessing a global shortage of condoms everywhere, which is going to be scary,” he said.

Karex Bhd has not produced a single condom in its three Malaysian factories for more than a week because of a lockdown imposed by the government to halt the spread of the virus.

The Reuters calculated that this would mean a shortfall of 100 million condoms, normally marketed internationally by brands such as Durex, supplied to state healthcare systems such as Britain’s NHS or distributed by aid programs such as the UN Population Fund.

The company was, however, given permission to restart production on Friday. It would continue production with only 50% of its workforce, under a special exemption for critical industries.

“It will take time to jumpstart factories and we will struggle to keep up with demand at half capacity,” Goh Miah Kiat said.

“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.”

Malaysia is Southeast Asia’s worst-affected country, with 5,820 coronavirus infections and 99 deaths.

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