THE FIRST of 300 flights collecting vital personal protective equipment (PPE) for use in Ireland’s battle against coronavirus has taken off from Dublin.
Ireland’s Health And Safety Executive has spent a reported €230 million on much-needed hospital supplies sourced from China.
Now the first of several hundred Aer Lingus cargo planes has taken off in order to bring the essential PPE home for Ireland's frontline healthcare workers.
The plane is embarking on an incredible 30-hour round trip to the Far East to collect the first part of the huge order.
The dedicated pilots involved will be required to remain on the plane throughout the trip, with any disembarkation resulting in a strict two-week quarantine under Chinese law.
According to HSE’s Chief Operations Officer, Anne O'Connor these regular trips are set to ensure staff at hospitals all over Ireland have access to enough PPE supplies to deal with the onslaught of Covid-19 cases expected in the coming weeks and months.
"We have already, since the first of February, brought in €30 million worth of PPE, there is another €30 million starting to arrive on Sunday,” she said.
"The best part of that will see 10 flights between Sunday and Wednesday coming into Ireland so the shipment overall will see 300 flights coming in.
"So it is a very, very significant supply chain that we have secured and we would see that we would have PPE over the coming weeks and months throughout all services."
Once the first lot of PPE has been collected, the plane will make an immediate return and expected back in Ireland on Sunday evening.
More flights are set to follow over the coming days.