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File photo of a Honda manufacturing facility used for representational purpose. (REUTERS)
File photo of a Honda manufacturing facility used for representational purpose. (REUTERS)

Make us masks to fight coronavirus: UK government to Ford, Honda

  • The massive factories of car and aircraft engine makers could help in creating equipment - in full or at least in parts - to fight coronavirus.
  • UK PM Boris Johnson has asked industry leaders to help in any manner possible.
  • There are over 1,500 positive cases of coronavirus in the UK.

The battle against coronavirus - officially referred to as Covid-19 - has begun in full earnest across the world with almost every major country where the outbreak has been reported claiming to take every possible measure to contain the pandemic. UK, where over 1,500 cases have been confirmed and with 55 deaths at the time of filing this report, the government has now asked major engine manufacturing companies like Ford, Honda and Rolls-Royce PLC to use some of their facilities to produce equipment that are critical for protection against and for treatment of coronavirus.

Reuters has reported that Rolls-Royce PLC, known for manufacturing engines for commercial planes, has offered help. Japanese car maker Honda has a plant in Swindon and has been asked by the UK government to explore the possibility of manufacturing ventilators here. Ventilators are crucial equipment to help people who have extreme cases of breathlessness. And breathlessness is one of several symptoms of coronavirus.

(Also read: Automakers, union form joint task force to limit coronavirus outbreak)

Reuters also quoted a spokesperson of Ford UK as saying that the company is 'assessing the situation.' The American car maker has two engine factories in the UK and these could, at least partially, be used to manufacture critical medical equipment.

These developments come in the backdrop of UK PM Boris Johnson urging Britons to avoid all non-essential travel. His government is reaching out to industry leaders in the country in a bid to devise how to ramp up production of key and essential medical equipment. “We’re saying that if you produce a ventilator, then we will buy it," Health Secretary Matt Hancock told UK's Sky News. "No number is too high and we are working with companies, we have been working with them for some time both to buy ventilators that are available but also to switch over production to ventilators."

Several other car makers in the UK, therefore, are also reportedly either willing or have been asked to help in any way possible.

Peugeot-owned Vauxhall is one such company that, while it has had to deal with temporary production suspensions, is offering to help with manufacturing equipment - in full or at least in parts.

Collective efforts, it is being widely believed, would be the best bet in the fight against coronavirus.

(Note: The report above had previously mentioned Rolls Royce has offered help to British government to manufacture medical equipment. For clarification purpose, this is Rolls Royce PLC and not Rolls Royce Motor Cars. The copy has since been updated to reflect this.)

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