Almost 100 Northern Ireland companies have answered the call to help manufacture vital healthcare products for the coronavirus battle.
The businesses are involved in efforts to scale up production of critical items such as ventilators, personal protective equipment (PPE), hand sanitisers and medical scrubs.
Stormont ministers have hailed the response.
Health Minister Robin Swann said: “As we all prepare ourselves for a critical phase in the battle to save lives, all parts of society have a part to play and it has been heartening indeed to see industry stepping up in the way they are.
“Nearly 100 local companies have come forward offering their skills and expertise to assist the effort to provide those on the front line with the precious resources that they need.”
More than 30 responses came from companies that will now be involved in the UK-wide push to produce Rapid Manufactured Ventilator Systems (RMVS).
They will join consortiums from across the UK with the target of producing a prototype that can be scaled up to the thousands within the next few weeks.
Around 20,000 units are to be manufactured and bought by NHS England and allocated to each region, including Northern Ireland.
A further 40-plus companies have stepped forward to assist in the production of PPE.
Finance Minister Conor Murphy said it was vital that frontline health workers were protected.
“I want to put on record my thanks to all public sector workers who have continued to provide vital public services in challenging circumstances,” he said.
“I commend the procurement teams across the public sector who have been working hard locally, nationally and internationally on supply chains so we can access essential supplies.”
With immediate effect, OâNeills are manufacturing scrubs for the Health and Social Care Trusts.— O'Neills (@ONeills1918) March 23, 2020
The health and safety of our workers is paramount. We are observing government hygiene and distancing protocol.
We are delighted to support the work of frontline healthcare staff. pic.twitter.com/oZJwNR5ek9
Economy Minister Diane Dodds added: “In the face of huge challenges, local business is doing what local business does – stepping up and innovating.
“More than 40 companies have volunteered to assist in providing support to produce various PPE requirements.
“These include companies that have offered help to provide hand sanitiser, those such as O’Neills in Strabane who have already begun the manufacture of clinical scrubs, and companies that will provide a range of other PPE equipment.
“Invest Northern Ireland is providing valuable input to the process and I am hugely grateful for everyone’s efforts at this difficult time. The local business community is doing us proud and I want to give them all the support possible.”
Businesses that want to offer assistance can contact: firstname.lastname@example.org