And as the government and military scramble to ensure hospitals are well-stocked, their efforts have been bolstered by some unlikely back-up.
Across the country, schools with sophisticated technology departments have put their resources to good use after being forced to close their gates, producing vital oxygen masks, respirators and breath shields for hospital workers.
Sevenoaks School in Kent is using 3D printing to make the equipment, focusing on comfort for doctors and nursing staff who often have to wear them for hours on end.
Head of technology Alex Colenso told HuffPost UK: “We want to do our bit to support the NHS in any way we can.
“We have four 3D printers in the technology department, which are currently being used to build prototype respirators and masks. So far, five test masks have been produced and are being tested, and we are waiting to hear if they are viable, or if amendments need to be made.
“The production process is very straightforward. It only needs one teacher from the technology department to volunteer at a time, so social distancing can be maintained.
“We’re also hoping to show students the production process in action by live streaming it as part of a virtual technology class now that we have switched to distance learning.”
Sevenoaks has joined forces with its local healthcare network so it can find out first-hand what is needed where. As well as manufacturing masks, they have also donated 600 pairs of safety goggles to GPs and other healthcare workers in the area.
Cat Davison, the school’s director of service and social impact, said: “As the Covid-19 pandemic has developed, it has been inspiring to see our pupils, parents, staff and community partners reaching out to others.
“It’s clear that everyone is recognising the power of...