Inspiration Healthcare Group (IHC.L), a small UK healthcare firm with a market capitalisation of £33m ($40m), revealed that it has signed a £1.25m deal with the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) to supply ventilators immediately.
The Crawley-based medical technology company said in a statement on Monday 16 March it has received an order from the NHS to immediately supply ventilators. It did not give a total number of ventilators this fee would entail.
“This is the single largest order Inspiration Healthcare has ever received and is directly in response to the preparations being made by the Department of Health and Social Care to deal with the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation in the UK,” it said.
“The order will be satisfied in the coming weeks and is for ventilators which are typically for use on adults in transport.”
Read more: Stocks fall as US Fed’s surprise stimulus puts investors on edge
The news sent IHC shares rocketing over 30% as of 9.45am local time:
"We are very pleased to have received this large order which is by far the largest single order we have ever had,” said Neil Campbell, CEO of Inspiration Healthcare in a statement.
“Equally, we are pleased to have been able to be engaged with the DHSC regarding the UK's preparedness planning against COVID-19.
“However, we are only too aware of the fast changing nature of governmental controls being put in place around the world in response to the spread of the virus and whilst we are working with our US supplier to achieve delivery as soon as possible we recognise that this may be subject to a number of factors which are outside of our control. Given this, and that we are at an early stage in the financial year, we remain cautious of how these factors may affect the markets in which we operate.”
The UK government said that it will now hold daily televised press conferences to update the public on the fight against coronavirus.
Infections have spread to more than 156,000 people across the world and killed at least 5,833.
Out of those, more than 22,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Europe – and more than 1,200 who contracted the virus have died.
In the UK, around 40,000 people have been tested for coronavirus and the total number of confirmed cases has reached over 1,000. As of 16 March, there have been 35 deaths from the coronavirus in the UK.
On 15 March, the UK health secretary confirmed that the over-70s could be asked to self-isolate in “coming weeks” to “shield” themselves from coronavirus.
Meanwhile, prime minister Boris Johnson is due to speak to engineering firms about whether they can shift production lines to building NHS ventilators. This includes carmakers and the construction equipment firm JCB.
"Preparing for the spread of the coronavirus outbreak is a national priority and we're calling on the manufacturing industry and all those with relevant expertise who might be able to help to come together to help the country tackle this national crisis," Downing Street said in a statement.
"We need to step up production of vital equipment such as ventilators so that we can all help the most vulnerable, and we need businesses to come to us and help in this national effort."