Three oxygen units flown from NI to India to help Covid-19 battle

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

Friday, 7th May 2021, 4:43 pm
Updated Friday, 7th May 2021, 4:44 pm

The world’s largest cargo plane left Belfast International Airport on Friday 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 on Thursday evening and staff at the airport worked through the night to load the machines on board.

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Health Minister Robin Swann (right) and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Naresh Chada at Belfast Airport as the world's largest cargo plane leaves Northern Ireland with three 18-tonne oxygen generators and 1,000 ventilators as part of the UK's latest response to India's Covid-19 crisis.

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.

Stormont 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 region’s own response to the Covid emergency.

They were not ultimately required in Northern Ireland hospitals.

UK 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.”