Condom shortage looms after coronavirus lockdown shuts world’s top producer

A worker performs a test on condoms at Malaysia's Karex condom factory in Pontian, 320 km (200 miles) southeast of Kuala Lumpur November 7, 2012. Malaysia's Karex Industries is the world's largest condom maker by volume. Picture taken November 7, 2012. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad/File Photo

 

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – A global shortage of condoms is looming, the world’s biggest producer said, after a coronavirus lockdown forced it to shut down production.

Malaysia’s Karex Bhd (KARE.KL) makes one in every five condoms globally. It has not produced a single condom from its three Malaysian factories for more than a week due to a lockdown imposed by the government to halt the spread of the virus.

That’s already 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 given permission to restart production on Friday, but with only 50% of its workforce, under a special exemption for critical industries.

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