Northern Ireland is to provide three oxygen generation units to India, Stormont’s Health Minister has announced.
The units are being transported to India as part of the UK-wide response to the escalating Covid crisis in the country.
The units were procured as part of the region’s own response to the Covid emergency.
They were not ultimately required in Northern Ireland hospitals.
Announcing the decision to send the units to India, Health Minister Robin Swann said he hoped they would help save lives.
“A humanitarian crisis is unfolding and providing support is undoubtedly the right thing to do,” he said.
“Oxygen supply is under severe stress in India’s health system.
“The oxygen generation units are each capable of providing 500 litres of oxygen per minute and I sincerely hope these units can help save lives.”
Ahead of their dispatch, the minister visited the storage facility that houses the units at Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast.
“The scenes in India are a vivid reminder of the destructiveness of the virus,” he added.
“We must never lose sight of the damage it is capable of inflicting.”
Funded by the Department of Health, oxygen generation component parts were bought by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust on behalf of the region’s health service earlier in the pandemic.
The trust and engineers used the parts to design and assemble a number of containerised oxygen generator plants that could be deployed as an emergency backup supply source for the region’s hospitals.
Further upgrade works have since been undertaken to improve the oxygen storage systems within Northern Ireland’s hospital estate.
One further death of a patient who had previously tested positive for Covid-19 was announced in Northern Ireland on Wednesday along with 98 new cases of the virus.
On Wednesday morning, there were 60 Covid-19 inpatients in hospital, with eight classified as intensive care patients.