Aviation services business John Menzies said it has laid off 17,500 staff after coronavirus caused a dramatic downturn in work.

Shares in the company slipped after it revealed it had more than halved its global workforce as it looked to cut costs.

The Edinburgh-based firm, which operates many of the behind-the-scenes parts of airports, said the impact of the Covid-19 virus has "increased significantly and extended across all international operations" in recent weeks.

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The number of flights handled by the company has fallen by more than 60% in the past two weeks, it said.

John Menzies said it is in talks with the UK Government to see if it can secure some of the emergency financing recently announced by the Chancellor.

Shares in the firm were down 9% to 76.4p.

The Government could buy into UK airlines struggling due to the collapse in demand for air travel, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has indicated.

Mr Shapps told MPs that nothing had been ruled out in the response to the coronavirus outbreak, according to a summary of a Transport Select Committee hearing published on Friday.

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During the session, which was held in private over Skype, Labour MP Ruth Cadbury asked the Cabinet minister whether the Government would consider taking a stake in UK airlines that faced collapse.

The description of Mr Shapps's response states: "The Secretary of State said that everything was on the table.

"The department had to try to save the aviation sector and to protect the consumer and the taxpayer.

"It was important to save companies that should survive in normal times."

Mr Shapps went on to say that the Government's offer to pay 80% of the salary for staff kept on by their employer would be important for airlines and airports.

He added it was vital that shareholders were "part of the solution" for saving companies.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the aviation industry earlier this week that he will not create a specific support package for it, but the Government is prepared to enter into negotiations with individual firms once they had "exhausted other options" such as raising cash from existing investors.

A warehouse delivering millions of pieces of medical equipment to hospitals across Scotland is "starting to see recovery" after a huge increase in demand.

The NHS National Procurement Centre in Larkhall, South Lanarkshire, delivers tens of thousands of products to more than 700 Scottish hospital locations.

Personal protection equipment (PPE) has become the number one item in the fight against coronavirus.

Director Jim Miller told the PA news agency the centre is "really well-prepared" and staff "understand this is the new normal for however long this lasts".

He said: "We are responsible for the distribution of PPE but way more than that.

"We have about 10,000 different product lines and we deliver almost 150,000 orders a week so there could be literally millions of items a week through to just over 700 hospital locations.

"There's no denying PPE is at the front of a lot of people's minds both in terms of what specific PPE is required for what situation and the guidance that's come out.

"Equally I think everyone recognises there's been an explosion in demand over the last three or four weeks and that has had some issues in supply very early on. 

"Not just in the NHS in Scotland and the UK but of course globally."

Mr Miller also said since last Thursday the centre has delivered more than one million items of PPE to the social care sector - a new addition to its service.

Normally around 50-60 people would work over three shifts but this has been upped to around 80-90 with cover 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The staff sort around 10,000 product lines in the centre and deal with almost 150,000 orders a week.