FRANKFURT (Reuters) – German eyewear manufacturer Fielmann has started to produce protective glasses to combat the spread of the coronavirus and plans to donate the first 20,000 to hospitals and other medical organisations, it said on Thursday.

“Observing the rapid development of the coronavirus crisis, we have altered a part of our supply chain for plastic frames in favour of protective glasses,” Chief Executive Marc Fielmann said in a statement.

Fielmann expects European certification within the next two weeks, he said.

Medical organisations can apply for free protective glasses from April 6, 0800 GMT (1000 CET), at, Fielmann said, adding the group would ship from its production centre in Rathenow, Germany.

Fielmann also said it would ramp up production capacity.

Earlier on Thursday, defence contractor Rheinmetall said it would supply up to 6 million protective masks to Germany, responding to a call for more protective equipment for health workers on the coronavirus front line.

(Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Madeline Chambers)