GE Healthcare ramps up ventilator production amid coronavirus spread

(Reuters) – General Electric’s (GE.N) healthcare unit said on Thursday it was hiring more people and shifting current employees to ramp up production of ventilators as the global coronavirus pandemic leads to surge in demand for medical equipment.

The company said its actions came in response to an unprecedented demand for medical equipment. GE did not disclose how many additional ventilators it expected to produce.

Other companies including Medtronic (MDT.N) have announced similar plans to ramp up production capacity.

GE said it had increased its manufacturing capacity for other equipments besides ventilators, including CTs, ultrasound devices and mobile X-ray systems.

Earlier this month the company forecast the virus outbreak would wipe out a substantial chunk of industrial free cash flow in the first quarter, but stuck to full-year financial targets it had set in January.

GE predicted the outbreak would erase up to $500 million from industrial free cash flow and cause a hit of $200 million to $300 million to its first-quarter operating profit. It forecast first-quarter earnings of about 10 cents per share, including virus impact.

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