MONTREAL -- The world’s largest condom producer is warning of a global condom shortage, following government lockdown measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report by Reuters.

“We are going to see a global shortage of condoms everywhere, which is going to be scary,” said Goh Miah Kiat, chief executive of Karex Bhd.

Although the company plans to restart production on Friday due to exemptions for critical industries, it will only deploy 50 per cent of its workforce. Malaysian lockdown measures are scheduled until April 14.

“It will take time to jumpstart factories and we will struggle to keep up with demand at half capacity,” said Kiat.

The company produces over five billion condoms per year -- one in five condoms made globally.

For more than a week, Karex Bhd hasn’t produced condoms from its three Malaysian factories, causing a shortfall of 100 million condoms. 

“My concern is that for a lot of humanitarian programs deep down in Africa, the shortage will not just be two weeks or a month,” said Kiat. “That shortage can run into months.”

Karex Bhd products are marketed internationally by brands such as Durex. The company also supplies state healthcare systems, including Britain’s NHS and aid programs such as the UN Population Fund. 

Despite the Malaysian company’s temporary halt in production, condom brand Durex announced that its operations are ongoing. 

“We are not experiencing any supply shortages,” said Durex in a statement published online. 

“For our consumers, many of whom will be unable to access shops, our Durex online stores remain open for business.”

Malaysia is the country in Southeast Asia worst affected by COVID-19, with 2,470 cases and 34 deaths as of Sunday.