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Coronavirus outbreak behind spike in orders for medical equipment made in Madison

MADISON (WKOW) -- A Madison company that makes life-saving medical equipment has seen a jump in orders following the outbreak of the coronavirus in China.

The GE Healthcare plant on Madison's far east side makes a specialized respirator, and orders are up nearly 20 percent recently in direct response to the outbreak.

GE Healthcare locally designs and manufactures the R860 respirator that breathes for patients who are unable to breathe for themselves, according to a company news release. 

A recent study published in the medical journal Lancet indicated that 30-percent of the patients who were being treated for Coronavirus in China developed acute respiratory distress syndrome, which in some cases required ventilation. 

Company officials say existing hiring plans, coupled with this increased demand for the respirator, means the local plant is looking to hire at least 10 people in manufacturing.

The Madison plant makes about 5,000 R860s a year, which are used in the treatment of up to 30,000 patients around the globe annually.

The GE Healthcare plant in Madison also saw a demand spike during the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s.

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