Border firm O'Neill's sportswear has just announced that it will reopen its factories to make doctors' scrubs to protect front-line medical staff against coronavirus.
Last week, the sportswear manufacturer announced that it would 'suspend operations' until May at the earliest due to the impact of the coronavirus on its business.
Around 900 employees at factories in Strabane and Walkinstown in Dublin were affected.
But today's news will provide much needed gear for medical staff while allowing hundreds of O'Neill's staff to return to work. Many of the Strabane workforce live in Donegal.
A spokesperson for the company said: "With immediate effect, O’Neill's will be manufacturing scrubs for the Health and Social Care Trusts.
"The health and safety of our workers is paramount and we are observing government hygiene and distancing guidelines.
"We are delighted to play our part in supporting the work of front-line healthcare staff at this time."
At present there is a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for medical staff and the government is keen for manufacturers, where possible, to transition to making protective equipment such as masks and scrubs.
Scrubs are the sanitary clothing worn by surgeons, nurses, physicians and other workers involved in patient care in hospitals. They are designed to be simple, with minimal places for contaminants to hide, easy to launder, and cheap to replace if damaged or stained irreparably.
Derry trade unionists had called on the local council, business community and political representatives to 'show leadership' by pushing for the O'Neill's factory to reopen to manufacture protective equipment needed in the fight against coronavirus.
The move will provide much needed gear for medical staff while allowing hundreds of O'Neill's staff to return to work.
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