Condom factory workers now deemed ‘essential’ as coronavirus creates global shortage
Condom factories that shut down because of coronavirus are reopening as a global shortage of condoms looms.
Condom factory employees have now been deemed essential workers as authorities grapple with a potential second crisis – a rise in unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
On March 27, the world’s biggest producer of condoms said that coronavirus had already caused a shortfall of 100 million condoms due to the halt in production.
Karex Bhd makes one in every five condoms produced globally, with their products usually marketed by brands such as Durex, distributed by state healthcare systems or supplied to international aid efforts.
All three of its factories in Malaysia were shut down in March as the government attempted to halt the spread of coronavirus, and not a single condom was produced in over a week.
Now, they have reopened with 50 per cent of workers allowed back to work in a bid to prevent a global shortage.
Condom CEO warns of global shortage.
“It will take time to jumpstart factories and we will struggle to keep up with demand at half capacity,” said the chief executive, Goh Miah Kiat.
“We are going to see a global shortage of condoms everywhere, which is going to be scary.
“My concern is that for a lot of humanitarian programmes… in Africa, the shortage will not just be two weeks or a month. That shortage can run into months.”
Goh added: “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
“Given that at this point in time, people are probably not planning to have children. It’s not the time, with so much uncertainty.”
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Durex says it remains open for business.
In an email to Reuters, a spokesman for Durex said operations are continuing as normal and the company was not experiencing any supply shortages as of yet.
“For our consumers, many of whom will be unable to access shops, our Durex online stores remain open for business.”
Most of the world’s condoms are made in Asia, with major producers in China, Thailand, Malaysia and India
Recently condoms have been selling out in countries like Australia and Singapore as panicked citizens buy them to use as makeshift protective equipment when pressing the button for the lift.
Malaysia is south-east Asia’s worst-affected country, with 3,662 cases of COVID-19 and 61 deaths.