A TRAIN builder has started production of face shields to protect care workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Japanese firm Hitachi, which has a factory in Newton Aycliffe, will provide the face shields free of charge on a priority basis to medical institutions.

The face shields have been designed by the Research and Development Group based on the opinions of the Hitachi General Hospital, in Japan.

The frame part is made of polypropylene, which can be cleaned by alcohol and is also designed to be lightweight while ensuring strength and allowing ventilation.

The shield part is designed to be removable and replaceable.

They are being produced at a rate of 2,000 to 3,000 units per week and the production volume is planned to be increased to between 8,000 and 10,000 units per week in June.

Toshiaki Higashihara chief executive of Hitachi said: "We would like to wish all those affected by Covid-19 a speedy recovery. We will consider what we can do uniquely with our innovation centered on digital technology, and will continue to contribute to the maintenance, recovery, and development of people's lives."