The boss of a family-run Norfolk business is spending £20,000 to send visors to frontline medical staff in India as the crisis in the country worsens.

The true number of deaths and cases in India is largely unknown - but reports show people being treated for coronavirus in cars as funeral pyres burn in the street after a new variant swept the country.

Steve Earl, who heads up plastic specialist firm Panel Graphic, will send £15,000 worth of visors plus he is paying the £5,000 air freight costs of the 12,000 visors to make sure they make it to the Diocese of Mumbai.

Mr Earl said: "During the pandemic we pivoted to make visors for the local community and we still have about 80,000 in stock. It began to get really difficult for us, and for our staff, to see what was happening on the news and know we had PPE which could help.

"The problem was we had no idea of how to get the visors over there and that was when one of our team, Jomy Mathew Thomas, said he could put us in touch with some people in India. He moved here with his wife, who works in the NHS, two years ago so has been heavily involved in the fight against the virus. When he said he could help it was a no brainer - I just wonder why as a country we aren't doing more.

Eastern Daily Press: Steve Earl (front left) with Jomy Mathew Thomas (front right) who helped organise the freight to IndiaSteve Earl (front left) with Jomy Mathew Thomas (front right) who helped organise the freight to India (Image: Panel Graphic)

"This is a cost we're going to have to absorb as a company. We have about 80,000 more visors we could send over and I'm very happy to, it's just a matter of freight costs."

The Loddon-based company began producing face visors instead of their usual display enhancement windows at the onset of the pandemic.

Mr Earl said: "12,000 visors in all of Mumbai is a drop in the ocean. But even if one business in every county did what they could it would make a huge difference. I know as soon as the visors arrive in India on Monday we'll start getting requests for more, but we're just a small family business and there's only so much we can do.

"I truly believe that until we're all safe no one is safe."

Mr Earl appealed for any businesses which could help with the freight of the remaining 80,000 visors to get in touch via the Panel Graphic website.