Malaysia's Top Glove reports COVID-19 outbreak at four factories

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia’s Top Glove Corp, the world’s largest medical grade glove maker, said on Saturday some employees at four factories had tested positive for COVID-19 recently.

FILE PHOTO: A general view of Top Glove headquarters is pictured in Shah Alam, Malaysia August 11, 2020. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

While the company did not say how many tested positive or when it received the test results, the news comes after more than 5,000 foreign workers at Top Glove were infected late last year and one died in what became Malaysia’s biggest cluster of the coronavirus.

All employees at one of the four facilities have undergone screening and those affected are under quarantine, while a mass screening is ongoing at another on Saturday, the company said in a statement.

Contact tracing and screening of close contacts are being carried out at the other two factories, it added.

The company said its board of directors was closely monitoring the situation and having discussions with the management team daily.

“We wish to assure our stakeholders that we are doing our utmost to ensure the continued safety and well-being of our employees, and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” it said.

Last week, the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock chided the manufacturer’s board of directors for failing egregiously in protecting its workers from the virus, voting against the re-election of some directors. But Top Glove defended its board.

A BlackRock unit, BlackRock Institutional Trust Co, is the tenth biggest shareholder in Top Glove, holding 1.07% of its shares.

Reuters reported last month that Top Glove fired a whistleblower who raised concern about the firm’s lack of COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Workers have also told Reuters that they lived in crowded dormitories.

The company has acknowledged that more needs to be done to raise its standard of employee welfare and has promised to rectify shortcomings.

Reporting by Liz Lee; editing by John Stonestreet and Clelia Oziel