KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 — The massive Teratai Covid-19 cluster in the Klang Valley does not only involve Top Glove Corporation Bhd, but factories operated by other companies as well, Top Glove’s highest officials said today.
However, these officials from the world’s largest glove maker, during a virtual press conference today, did not mention the name of the other companies purportedly affected by Covid-19 in the Teratai cluster that has notched up over 4,000 positive cases to date.
“Teratai cluster not only covers Top Glove, but other factories, not only Top Glove. Top Glove about 3,000 [positive cases],” Top Glove executive chairman and founder Lim Wee Chai said.
According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), as of today, there have been 4,063 positive cases from the Teratai cluster across Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, out of a total of 6,506 individuals screened, with 173 awaiting results. This is equivalent to a 62.5 per cent positivity rate, which means that there are a lot more infected people who have yet to be tested. Top Glove has 11,215 workers.
Top Glove officials also said today that they have tested about 6,000 to 7,000 of their workers and are in the process of testing all of their workers and staff, which is estimated to be completed this week.
Top Glove Purportedly Provides Comfortable Housing For Workers
Top Glove managing director Lee Kim Meow also claimed that the company has taken various proactive measures to provide a comfortable living space for their workers, adhering to Act 446, the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990.
“We bought 100 of units of apartments and we adhered closely to the minimum requirement of 3.6 square metres of space and toilets for workers,” Lee said.
Lee, however, did not mention the number of workers living in each unit, as well as the total square feet per unit.
“We have our own facilities like our own automated teller machines (ATMs), barbers, mini markets and in-house canteens to help to reduce the need for these workers to go out and mingle in other places, which is happening in other places,” the managing director said.
Human Resources Minister M. Saravanan, who visited Top Glove’s housing for their workers, said that the workers’ hostels are in a terrible condition, Malaysiakini reported today.
“I have visited the hostels and the conditions are terrible. My officers were ordered to go in full force as this is a big, vulnerable migrant workers’ colony,” Saravanan was quoted saying.
Top Glove officials responded to this by saying that they were surprised with the Human Resource Minister’s comment, as two to three months ago when he visited Top Glove, everything seemed good and Top Glove has been improving since then.
“During that time, he said it seems to be good and we do not know why now he said it differently. We also welcome him to come and visit us again,” Lee said.
“So, it came as a big surprise when such comments were made. So, we need to clarify with the Ministry to see what are the areas we did not do correctly and how we can improve further.” Lim said.
Covid-19 Test Sensitivity Questioned
According to the executive chairman and founder of Top Glove, the sensitivity of Covid-19 tests are not very accurate.
“We have some examples, in early November, when we detected, we sent 30 positive case results for re-test, use different lab to re-test. Out of that, 17 of these became negative,” Lim said without mentioning if the test done was the gold standard RT-PCR or antigen rapid test kits.
“So the accuracy of Covid-19 testing method is not that accurate. We need to study and do some research what is the accurate method of doing so that we give more accurate results, instead of inaccurate or false positives.”
He also said that the workers from Top Glove who contracted Covid-19 were mostly between the age of 20 and 30, and most of them did not have any symptoms and did not require any treatment.
No Gloves Contaminated With Covid-19
According to Top Glove founder Lim, gloves produced by Top Glove have not been contaminated by the coronavirus, as their factory is warm between 30 to 40 degrees celsius.
Moreover, Top Glove said that their workers wear proper personal protective equipment, with no direct contact with the product.
“It’s good that our production line is fully automated. No direct contact with the glove.”
The Teratai cluster was first discovered on November 7. Most of the infected are migrant workers, with MOH saying yesterday that 71 Covid-19 cases in the Teratai cluster were close contact infections, while 164 cases involved Malaysian workers who may be living in their own homes, not in workers’ dormitories.
The government has instructed 28 of Top Glove’s factories in Meru in Klang, Selangor, to close in stages to allow the workers to go through screening and the quarantine process.
According to Senior Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob today, a special task force has been formed to facilitate the process of screening, quarantine, and closure of the Top Glove factories.
As of yesterday, 20 Top Glove factories have been shut while seven more were closed today, which will be followed by another, Ismail Sabri said.
Ismail Sabri also said that those who are screened and found positive for Covid-19 will be sent to hospital, while those who tested negative will be quarantined in hotels, among which are Gold Coast Hotel and Kelang Sentral Hotel, as well as a stadium at Pandamaran.
From November 17, the government had implemented an enhanced movement control order (EMCO) at Top Glove workers’ hostels in Meru until November 30. The EMCO involved the male hostel and Jalan Abadi 1A/KU8, as well as the female hostel and Jalan Abadi 1A and Jalan Abadi 10A/KU8, covering 13,190 workers and 1,200 residents.