Great Britain

Coronavirus: Looming condom shortage crisis as factories forced to close

The world faces a shortage of condoms, the world’s largest producer has warned after being shut for more than a week due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Malaysia’s Karex Bhd, which produces one-fifth of condoms globally, had to close its three factories because of the lockdown enforced by the Malaysian government. 

Over this period, the company would usually make 100 million condoms. 

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The factories reopened on Friday after being exempted from the restrictions, but are only operating at half capacity. 

Goh Miah Kiat, chief executive of Karex Bhd, told Reuters: "It will take time to jumpstart factories and we will 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 added.

The chief executive also expressed his concern for humanitarian programmes in Africa, which he thinks might experience condom shortages for months. 

A spokesman for Durex said the company’s operations would continue as normal and it was not experiencing any supply shortages. 

He added: "For our consumers, many of whom will be unable to access shops, our Durex online stores remain open for business."

Malaysia, with 2,320 infections and 27 deaths, is southeast Asia’s worst-affected country.

The country’s lockdown, which is scheduled to last until 14 April, has also affected the makers of critical items such as medical gloves. 

Additional reporting from Reuters

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