Irish flight arrives in China to collect PPE as stocks begin to run low

Irish flight arrives in China to collect PPE as stocks begin to run low

The first Aer Lingus flight to China to collect personal protective equipment for the Irish health service arrived in Beijing shortly before 8.30pm on Saturday, having left Dublin Airport earlier in the morning.

On Saturday Minister for Health Simon Harris said the first of upwards of ten flights carring PPE, including surgical masks, gowns and eye shields for health service workers, would arrive into Dublin on an Aer Lingus flight from China on Sunday afternoon.

Over €225 million had been spent on PPE – compared with €15 million in a normal year, he said. The HSE would begin distributing about €20 million worth of PPE from Sunday evening and up to ten further flights delivering more equipment were due between now and Wednesday, he said.

It comes as stocks of personal protective equipment for healthcare staff tackling the Covid-19 outbreak are “beginning to run low”, according to the Health Service Executive.

The HSE is currently seeking to redistribute stocks to sites with “particular shortages”, it said in a statement. “We are encouraging staff to use these resources appropriately at this stage of the crisis.”

One group of doctors say they have procured €6,000 worth of PPE themselves after losing patience with the HSE’s efforts to supply the equipment.

While the large shipment PPE is scheduled to arrive back in Dublin Airport on Sunday and be distributed in the succeeding days, but it remains unclear whether existing supplies will be sufficient to bridge the gap until then.

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