Distiller Diageo has pledged to donate enough alcohol to make more than eight million bottles of hand sanitiser to help protect frontline healthcare workers globally.

The company - which has production bases around the world, including in Northern Ireland and the Republic – will make the necessary alcohol available at no cost to hand sanitiser companies.

Diageo says it will provide enough Grain Neutral Spirit (GNS) – a 96% strength ethyl alcohol used primarily in production of vodka and gin – to make more than eight million 250ml bottles.

That amounts to two million litres of GNS.

Healthcare workers are at the forefront of fighting this pandemic and we are determined to do what we can to help protect them. This is the quickest and most effective way for us to meet the surging demand for hand sanitiser around the world.

Ivan Menezes, Chief Executive of Diageo

A company statement said: “Diageo continues to engage with national and local governments across the many countries where the company has major distilling operations.

“The spirit will be made available in supply chains according to local circumstances, working with the relevant authorities and hand sanitiser manufacturers.

“This will ensure the donation is used for maximum impact in protecting health workers and patients and that sanitiser reaches the frontline as quickly as possible.”

Diageo usually makes a host of brands, like Guinness, Baileys, Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and more.

The company’s plans include the donation of 500,000 litres of GNS to be made available for the UK and Ireland.

In Italy, where the coronavirus outbreak has already caused devastation and the loss of hundreds of lives, 100,000 litres will be made available.

Washing your hands and using hand sanitiser remains crucial in the fight against Covid-19, as well as adhering to guidelines on social distancing and self-isolating.

However, panic buying has led to shortages of items on supermarket shelves and in difficulty sourcing sanitiser, cleaning wipes and other protective essentials for those on the frontline.

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