More life-saving support for India on its way from UK

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The world’s largest cargo plane left Belfast today, carrying three 18-tonne oxygen generators and 1,000 ventilators as part of the UK’s latest response to India’s Covid-19 crisis.

Airport staff worked through the night to load the life-saving kit, funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), aboard the massive Antonov 124 aircraft.

Each of the three oxygen generation units – the size of 40ft freight containers – produces 500 litres of oxygen per minute, enough for 50 people to use at a time. They are expected to reach India on Sunday morning, where the Indian Red Cross will help transfer them to hospitals.

This support, previously announced, is in addition to 200 ventilators and 495 oxygen concentrators, which the UK sent to India in late April.

It comes following discussions with India and a pledge from Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the UK to do all it can to help. The latest assistance package has been sourced by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and is fully funded by the FCDO.

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.

Northern Ireland Health Minister, Robin Swann, was at Belfast International Airport to welcome the arrival of the plane last night and to see the three surplus oxygen generators supplied by the Department of Health (Northern Ireland) loaded onto the giant cargo plane. The offering by Northern Ireland’s health service is in addition to 1,000 ventilators offered by DHSC.

He said:

The scenes coming out of India are a vivid reminder of the devastation this virus can cause and it shows no sign of abating.

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.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock said:

The situation in India is heart-breaking 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.

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