PARIS, March 18 (Reuters) - French sugar and ethanol company Tereos has decided to boost the production of pharmaceutical alcohol at five of its factories in France to meet a shortage of hydroalcoholic gel due to the fast-spreading coronavirus, it said on Wednesday.
The coronavirus has infected some 200,000 people worldwide, according to a Reuters tally, including about 7,700 people in France where the authorities ordered a lockdown from Tuesday.
Governments and health agencies have advised people to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer to curb the spread of the virus, prompting an increase in demand for the alcohol used in many of the products.
Tereos had said last week it had seen a spike in demand for denatured alcohol. It was unblocking some of its stocks and making these requests a priority.
French rival Cristal Union said on Tuesday it was suspending the production of bioethanol at the Arcis sur Aube distillery to redirect its production towards ethyl alcohol.
Tereos said the group would still make ethanol but would ensure the supply of 11,000 litres of hydroalcoholic gel per week, starting with its factory in Origny-Sainte-Benoite, that would be given free of charge to the relevant authorities. (Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by David Clarke)