Answer Ireland's Call: Irish businesses pay for flights and accommodation to get Irish doctors home to fight against coronavirus

Answer Ireland's Call: Irish businesses pay for flights and accommodation to get Irish doctors home to fight against coronavirus

A NEW initiative to get as many Irish doctors as possible home to fight against the spread of coronavirus in the country has so far resulted in 11 health workers returning from overseas.

'Answer Ireland's Call' has grown exponentially from a kind gesture from Irish businessman Neil O. Sands, who last week offered to pay for flights for two Irish doctors from anywhere on earth, offering to put them up in his own home free of charge while he self-isolated with his parents elsewhere.

Since that tweet, and with the initiative starting to go viral, Mr Sands has been approached by multiple businesses and private donors wishing to do their part and assist in getting health care workers home to Ireland to fight on the front line.

So far, 11 people have been returned from overseas, with their flights paid for and accommodation offered in order for them to self-isolate before they get to work.

Doctors, medics and other health workers have been flown in from Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Malawi, with Neil Sands saying there are a further 1700 people on the list.

Mr Sands paid special tribute to the Chamber of Commerce, Emerald Travel Australia and the "tireless, unpaid work" of Hannon Travel Ireland for helping the 'Answer Ireland's Call' initiative to assist as many people as possible.

Speaking to The Irish Post, Mr Sands, who is a former Silicon Valley technology executive who has recently returned to Ireland from California, said that in his time abroad he "met so may Irish who wanted to support Ireland but there were often financial or accommodation obstacles for them in returning home to do so".

"At times like this, I think we need to gather our brightest and best, wherever they may be to support the effort. Historically, the public in Ireland have often mobilised in hard times, faster than the government can, and powerfully now as a combined effort.

"I want to help and there aren’t obvious ways to do that," he said, but by offering to pay for a flight or accommodation, "it might mean saving an Irish person’s life".

"The message is simple," he went on.

"If you are medical staff abroad, and you want to answer Ireland’s call – We will fly you, We will house you, but we will never be able to thank you enough."

By Thursday of last week, over €100,000 had been donated to the initiative; homes had been offered to returning medical staff in 16 counties, and a Dublin hotel had offered all of its rooms to returning medics.

'Answer Ireland's Call' is continuing to offer to pay for flights and accommodation for Irish health workers across the globe should they choose to return home to fight against the virus.

If you are a medical worker wishing to come home, if you are in the capacity to offer to pay for flights or provide accommodation, or if you simply wish to donate to the initiative-- you can visit the 'Answer Ireland's Call' website here.