LVMH, the world's biggest luxury goods group, is ordering 40 million health masks from a Chinese supplier to help France cope with the coronavirus outbreak.
The first order, for a total of 10 million masks, will be delivered in coming days, LVMH said in a statement on Saturday. This initial batch will be given to the French health service for distribution to those in need early next week.
The rest of the order, on which LVMH cooperated with the French government, will be funded by the state and should be delivered in coming weeks.
LVMH, owner of brands such as Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior and controlled by France's richest man Bernard Arnault, is already producing and delivering free-of-charge hand sanitizer to French hospitals.
"In order to secure this (mask) order during an extremely tense period and to ensure that the production begins today, Bernard Arnault arranged for LVMH to finance the whole of the first week of deliveries, amounting to 5 million euros ($5.4 million)," the group said.
Countries around the world are struggling to deal with the biggest public health crisis since the 1918 influenza pandemic, with medical supplies and protective gear in short supply.
Many health professionals in France have criticized the shortages as the country fights coronavirus and entered a unprecedented lockdown on Tuesday.