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Fiat Chrysler to make and distribute face masks for USA emergency service workers

Face masks will be donated to police, emergency medical staff, firefighters and to workers in hospitals and health care clinics

Car giant Fiat Chrysler (FCA) has confirmed plans to produce a million face masks a month. It will them to emergency services in the USA to help the coronavirus crisis.

FCA is also trying to help produce badly needed respirators for patients in intensive care in Italy. It is one of a number of large manufacturers adapting production lines to make products in short supply.

Initial distribution of the face masks will be across the US, Canada and Mexico and will be donated to police, emergency medical staff, firefighters and to workers in hospitals and healthcare clinics, the company said.

Face masks and other protective equipment for medical staff have been running out across the world as thousands of new cases of the virus arrive in hospitals daily.

Both FCA and its controlling shareholder Exor, the investment firm of Italy’s Agnelli family, have offered significant assistance to efforts in handling the crisis in Italy, where almost 6,000 people have died.

FCA and luxury automaker Ferrari, also controlled by Exor, are in talks with Siare, Italy’s biggest respirator manufacturer, to help it double production of the life-saving machines.

In addition, the Agnelli family said last week it was donating €10m to fight the virus emergency in Italy.

It said companies controlled by Exor bought 150 ventilators and other medical equipment abroad, provided vehicles for support of people in need and were in touch with Italian authorities to help them buy medical equipment and healthcare products.

Exor has made an initial purchase of 250,000 face masks in China which would be distributed in Italy and were expected to arrive by the end of this week.

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