Honeywell sees surge in demand for face masks in North America, China

(Reuters) – Industrial conglomerate Honeywell International Inc (HON.N) said on Friday it was seeing a surge in demand for its protective face masks in North America, Europe, India and China, following the coronavirus outbreak.

The company said it was increasing production at multiple facilities globally to address the growing demand.

“We are ready and willing to partner with the U.S. government to support national response efforts,” a Honeywell spokesman told Reuters.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on Friday the United States will invoke special powers to boost production of masks, gloves, gowns and other items to protect against the new virus.

The number of confirmed U.S. cases of coronavirus is still relatively small at around 60, most of them repatriated American passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan, but there are growing fears that the country is on the cusp of wider outbreak.

U.S. and global stocks plummeted on Friday as rattled investors braced for the prospect that a pandemic could further dent an already slowing world economy, increasing the pressure on governments to quickly respond to the crisis.

The outbreak started in China late last year and the latest World Health Organization figures indicate over 82,000 people have been infected, with over 2,700 deaths in China and 57 deaths in 46 other countries.

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