The British Government, while extending aid to India, flies the world’s largest cargo plane from Belfast in Northern Ireland on Friday, carrying three 18-tonne oxygen generators and 1,000 ventilators.
Expected to land in Delhi at 0800 hrs on Sunday morning, the supplies were aboard in the massive Antonov 124 aircraft by the airport staff who worked through the night to load the life-saving kit, informed the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), which funded the supplies.
Once the supplies land in Delhi, the Indian Red Cross will help transfer them to hospitals, added FCDO.
Each oxygen generation units are of a size of 40-foot freight containers and produces 500 liters of oxygen per minute, which is enough for the use of 50 people at a time.
“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,” said UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
“The UK and India are working together to tackle this pandemic. No one is safe until we are all safe,” he said.
As part of the latest set of supplies which were announced earlier are 200 ventilators and 495 oxygen concentrators sent from the UK to India last month, also funded by the FCDO.
The assistance package has been sourced by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the offer by Northern Ireland’s health service is in addition to 1,000 ventilators offered by the DHSC.
“The situation in India is heart-breaking and we stand side by side with our friends as they face this immense challenge,” said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
“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,” he said.
Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann who was present at the Belfast International Airport to see the loading of the surplus oxygen generators supplied by his department 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.”
Furthermore, he added, “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 liters of oxygen per minute. I sincerely hope this equipment goes some way to easing the pressure and pain the country is currently experiencing.”
Currently, the nation is reeling under a horrific second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, registering more than 4lakh cases every 24 hrs and 3k+ deaths, resulting in a shortage of vital medical equipment and supplies. The UK is among the several countries that have stepped forward to support India with their surplus stocks during the crisis.