Ireland announced on Tuesday it is sending 700 oxygen concentrators from its stockpile to back India’s Covid-19 response, joining the growing list of countries that are rushing aid to help health facilities tackle a severe shortage of oxygen.
The concentrators, devices that draw oxygen from the air and deliver it to patients, are expected to reach India early on Wednesday.
Ireland has also pledged to send ventilators to India as a gesture of solidarity that is part of the European Union’s (EU) coordinated response to help the country cope with the massive surge in Covid-19 cases.
Irish ambassador Brendan Ward said: “The situation in India is being followed closely in Ireland, where there is now a large Indian community. Indian medical professionals are very important to our health system.
“We are pleased to be able to offer these oxygen concentrators now. We are in close contact with the Indian government and we are looking at what further assistance we could offer, such as ventilators and other equipment.”
According to official data released on Tuesday, India recorded 323,144 new Coronavirus infections since Monday – the sixth consecutive day of record-breaking tallies above the 300,000 mark. Nearly 2,800 more people succumbed to the viral disease, taking the death toll to 197,894.
Ireland’s donation of oxygen concentrators is being made from stocks originally purchased for use in a field hospital setting, as part of pandemic preparations, national broadcaster RTE reported.
Oxygen cylinders need to be refilled, while oxygen concentrators can provide a continuous flow of oxygen that doesn’t run out and are lighter than cylinders and can be moved easily. A spokeswoman for Ireland’s Health Service Executive said they are ideal for patients who don’t require mechanical ventilation but would benefit from oxygen via a face mask.
The donated items are brand new and were purchased specifically for Covid-19 patients.
Ireland’s health minister Stephen Donnelly, who worked on the plan to send supplies to India along with foreign minister Simon Coveney over the weekend, said, “We have all seen the rapidly deteriorating situation in relation to Covid-19 in India. I am pleased that Ireland is in a position to make this emergency donation of 700 oxygen concentrators to India.”
Tanaz Buhariwalla, India director for IDA Ireland, the agency responsible for inward foreign direct investment, said, “India and Ireland have a strong relationship spanning decades. We are happy that during these difficult times, the Irish government has extended an arm to support our war against Covid-19 and aid the healthcare workers.”
The aid from Ireland is part of the response under EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism, which was activated on Sunday following a request from India. Germany and France have also announced support packages as part of the EU response.