Northern Ireland news

Three oxygen units which can treat 50 patients simultaneously flown to India to help Covid-19 effort

 Three 18-tonne oxygen generators and 1,000 ventilators were loaded onto the world's largest cargo at Belfast International Airport as part of the UK's latest response to India's Covid-19 crisis. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA Wire
David Young, PA

Three huge oxygen generation units have been picked up in Northern Ireland on a relief flight carrying the vital medical supplies to India.

The world’s largest cargo plane left Belfast International Airport this morning carrying the three 18-tonne generators, which were each packed in 40ft freight containers.

They will help in the battle against India’s escalating Covid-19 crisis.

The Antonov 124 aircraft landed in Northern Ireland last night and staff at the airport worked through the night to load the machines on board.

It had already been packed with 1,000 ventilators taken from surplus stocks across the UK.

The oxygen generation units are each able to produce 500 litres of oxygen per minute, enough to treat 50 people at a time on ventilators.

The machines are Northern Ireland’s contribution to the UK-wide response to India’s Covid-19 crisis.

Three 18-tonne oxygen generators and 1,000 ventilators were loaded onto the world's largest cargo at Belfast International Airport as part of the UK's latest response to India's Covid-19 crisis. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA Wire

Health Minister Robin Swann was at the airport to see the generators dispatched.

The operation has been funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

“The scenes coming out of India are a vivid reminder of the devastation this virus can cause and it shows no sign of abating,” said Mr Swann.

“It is our moral duty to help and support where we can.

“Oxygen supply is under severe stress in India’s health system and the three oxygen generation units that we are sending today are each capable of producing 500 litres of oxygen per minute.

“I sincerely hope this equipment goes some way to easing the pressure and pain the country is currently experiencing.”

The oxygen units were procured as part of the north’s own response to the Covid emergency.

They were not ultimately required in Northern Ireland hospitals.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The situation in India is heartbreaking and we stand side by side with our friends as they face this immense challenge.

“As we battle this global pandemic together, the vital equipment we are providing, including ventilators and oxygen generators, will help save lives and support India’s healthcare system.

“As one United Kingdom we will continue to do all we can to help the Indian health authorities turn the tide on this dreadful virus.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “The UK is sending surplus oxygen generators from Northern Ireland to India. This life-saving equipment will support the country’s hospitals as they care for vulnerable Covid patients.

“The UK and India are working together to tackle this pandemic. No-one is safe until we are all safe.”

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