‘All brands to the pump!’ Dior is latest fashion icon to join COVID-19 fight

Volunteers at its Brittany plant will make the protective gear instead of high-end baby clothes. The company, which is owned by LVMH, is just the latest luxury brand to offer its facilities to help in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Other famous fashion houses in France and Italy, such as Gucci, Prada and Chanel, have already turned their plants into production lines for making medical blouses and face masks.

LVMH also confirmed that they would use their perfume factories to produce hand sanitiser gel, which has been in huge demand from both the public and hospitals.

Dior said that its masks would go to workers in key jobs, such as transport and food, rather than to medical staff in hospitals.

Like many other countries afflicted by the pandemic, France has faced acute shortages in medical equipment and protective clothing.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, said he hoped the country would become self-sufficient in face masks by the end of the year, as his government commissioned an order for a billion masks.

He said that the aim was to push total output of masks to 15 million per week.

Mr Macron also plans to ramp up the production of lifesaving ventilators, that are desperately needed in the country’s hospitals.

The French president said that progress was being made on that front, revealing that respirator maker Air Liquide was teaming up with other firms to speed up production of ventilators.

On Tuesday, French health authorities announced a daily increase of 499 deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total number of dead to over 3,500.

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The increase represents the biggest jump in deaths since the start of the outbreak.

Authorities continued to evacuate patients from overwhelmed hospitals in the Grand-Est region, the second worst affected area in France after the Ile-de-France in Paris.

The patients were airlifted by helicopter to Germany, which has also received coronavirus sufferers from Italy.

Mr Macron called for national unity and hit back at critics of his regime’s response to the health crisis, calling them “irresponsible”.

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The president said: “When you are fighting a battle you have to be united in order to win it.”

Despite this criticism, an opinion poll published by the French magazine Paris Match showed that both the president and his prime minister Edouard Philippe’s approval ratings were rising.

Meanwhile, in Britain a leading scientist accused Boris Johnson of going down the “wrong path” in his response to the coronavirus outbreak by initially pursuing a “herd immunity” strategy.

Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at Edinburgh University, said that the government took the fateful decision based on assumptions by its leading scientists that everyone would become infected with the virus anyway.

As a result, ministers chose not to follow in the footsteps of South Korea and roll out a programme of mass testing and stringent contact tracing.

These measures have helped Seoul contain the spread of COVID-19 and keep the death toll below 200 without needing to impose a lockdown.

In a tweet on Tuesday, professor Sridhar wrote: “Planning and preparing for unprecedented testing and using big data/apps for tracing were taken off the table.

“In my view, we went down the wrong path.”

Her remarks came as Britain also experienced the steepest rise to date in coronavirus deaths, with 381 new fatalities confirmed on Tuesday.

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