Drinks giant Diageo said today it would supply two million litres of alcohol to make anti-bacterial hand sanitiser to boost stocks depleted by the global coronavirus outbreak.

Diageo, whose brands include Guinness, Smirnoff vodka and Johnnie Walker whisky, said the alcohol would help to make eight million 250ml bottles.

Priority would be given to frontline health professionals battling the spread of the disease, it added.  

Ethyl alcohol of 96% strength normally used to make gin and vodka will be made available to Ireland, the UK, the US, India, Kenya, Italy, Australia, and Brazil.

Diageo director-general Ivan Menezes said that healthcare workers are at the forefront of fighting this pandemic and we are determined to do what we can to help protect them.

"This is the quickest and most effective way for us to meet the surging demand for hand sanitiser around the world," he added. 

The move is the latest by drinks companies around the world. 

Last week, France's Pernod Ricard - which owns Irish Distillers - said it would repurpose part of its production to make hand sanitiser.  

Listoke Distillery near Drogheda in Co Louth is making its own hand sanitiser, while Clonakilty Distillery in Co Cork  is creating sanitisers with an alcohol content of 63% and is going into production immediately, with bottles and equipment in place.

The Shed Distillery in Co Leitrim is due to shortly start the distribution of emergency alcohol and surface cleaner. 

Australia cricket legend Shane Warne's SevenZeroEight alcohol company and British craft brewer Brewdog have also said they will start making hand sanitiser products.