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Uber to provide ‘tens of millions’ of masks in virus safety move

San Francisco, United States | AFP |  Uber said Thursday it planned to give out “tens of millions” of masks to drivers worldwide as part of its efforts to boost safety amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The global ridesharing giant said it shipped its first order of masks to drivers in New York City, which is the current US epicenter of the outbreak, and expects another half-million that will go other US cities.

The move follows updated guidance from health authorities in the US and elsewhere to use face coverings as an added protection against spreading the virus.

“We’ve ordered tens of millions more masks and expect them to arrive in other cities and regions around the world in the coming weeks,” Uber safety vice president Gus Fuldner said in a statement.

“Supplies are limited and healthcare needs will always take priority, so global shipments will take time.”

Uber, which has seen a massive drop in ridership due to lockdowns around the world, said it was obtaining the masks “from outside of the traditional healthcare supply chains” including from one company normally produces electronics.

The company said it was donating all of its N95 respirator masks, which offer extra filtering for medical personnel, to hospitals.

Uber last week began sending bottles of disinfectant to drivers to clean cars, prioritizing those handling high-levels of activity in a handful of cities including New York.

The first shipment wave amounted to 30,000 quart-sized bottles, according to a tweet by Uber senior vice president of global rides Andrew MacDonald.

“Healthcare orders take precedence, but we’re working to secure more supplies as they become available,” MacDonald said.

Uber this week will launch a COVID-19 resources hub in its application to provide updated information about safety and resources for drivers and delivery people,

The hub will be available globally and is intended to be a “go-to spot” for safety tips, help with applying for financial relief from your local government, and information on additional earning opportunities.

Last week, Uber announced 10 million rides and food deliveries to healthcare workers, seniors, and people in need, free of charge around the world.

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