CAR manufacturer Nissan has said production at its Sunderland factory has been suspended due to the coronavirus.

Economic uncertainty as a result of the crisis has led to a sudden fall in demand.

There are currently around 7,000 people employed at the plant.

The Japanese company said in a statement: "Vehicle production has been suspended today in Nissan Sunderland plant.

"Further measures are currently under study as we assess supply chain disruption and the sudden drop in market demand caused by the Covid-19 emergency."

Nissan is the latest in a series of vehicle manufacturers to stop production because of the outbreak of coronavirus, including Peugeot and Renault.

Vauxhall's plants in Ellesmere Port and Luton are part of a Europe-wide shutdown by owner PSA Group.

Volkswagen has said it is preparing to suspend production at its factories.

Factories in Spain and Italy have already been closed to protect staff.

Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson said there needs to be immediate action to protect jobs in the automotive industry.

She said: "The news that Nissan UK has decided to suspend production at the plant in my constituency is extremely concerning, and shows just how much of an impact coronavirus is having on our country.

"I will be writing to the Prime Minister this afternoon, urging him to take further action to safeguard industries and businesses that are already suffering as a result of the virus.

"Both he and the Chancellor need to urgently take steps to ensure that no businesses or individuals bear the brunt of this crisis."

“40,000 people in and around my constituency rely on the plant for their livelihoods and I will do everything I can to secure them."