The first consignment of a £60 million order for Personal Protective Equipment from China has arrived in Northern Ireland.

The Stormont Executive said 1.5 million Type 11R respirator masks arrived in Belfast in recent days.

In total, just over 63 million masks and more than 54 million pairs of protective gloves have been purchased.

The delivery of the first consignment comes two months after a major order for PPE from China failed to materialise.

Details of the delivery were announced in a joint statement by Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann and Finance Minister Conor Murphy.

They said the remainder of the order will be delivered on a phased basis over coming weeks and would be a major boost for local health and social care services.

"Establishing a supply line with China, in the face of significant international competition for PPE, is a significant achievement for the Executive," said Mr Murphy.

Mr Swann said the achievement in securing the order should not be underestimated because of the intense global demand for PPE.

"I have made it clear that PPE products will only be issued to frontline staff after they are assessed," he added.

"I am pleased to confirm that the reports on the new consignment are positive in this regard."

In April, Mr Murphy claimed that the Stormont Executive and the Irish Government had placed a joint order for PPE from China, but the Department of Health in Dublin said no joint order had been placed.

Mr Murphy later said the plan had failed when "major economic powers entered the global race for PPE".