Europe

Coronavirus: Historic Ireland-China PPE flights lands in Dublin

Aer Lingus flight from China returns to Dublin Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption The plane, named St Ronán, touched down at Dublin Airport at about 15:00 local time on Sunday

A historic flight from the Republic of Ireland to China to collect personal protective equipment (PPE) has landed back in Dublin.

The Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to Beijing was the airline's first ever scheduled trip to China.

The plane, named St Ronán, touched down at about 15:00 local time on Sunday.

The equipment will be distributed to healthcare facilities from Sunday evening, Irish Health Minister Simon Harris said.

It is the first of 10 flights to Beijing to deliver PPE to Ireland as part of a €208m (£180m) deal.

Some of the PPE from these flights is believed to be destined for Northern Ireland.

NI Finance Minister Conor Murphy last week said a "significant consignment" of PPE would be sent from China after a joint order by the Irish government and the Stormont executive.

On Sunday, 10 more coronavirus-related deaths were confirmed in the Republic of Ireland bringing the total to 46.

The Irish Department of Health said six of the deaths occurred in the east of the country, three in the northwest of the country and one in the south.

A total of 2,615 cases have been confirmed in the country.

A total of 21 people have died in Northern Ireland, after six more deaths were reported on Sunday.

There has been concern on both sides of the Irish border that healthcare workers do not have enough protective equipment to treat patients with Covid-19.

Irish Health Minister and the Republic of Ireland's Health Service Executive (HSE) have said there is a global shortage of the equipment following the coronavirus outbreak.

The Department of Health has now spent more than €200m (£173m) on sourcing extra PPE supplies from China, RTE had reported.

The normal annual spend would be about €15m (£13m).

More on this story