Calls For ‘Military Support’ As Hull Battles COVID-19 ‘Emergency’

The city council says it has requested “feet on the ground” support in talks with the Government.

Hull City Council is in discussions with the Government over whether the city can receive “military support” in fighting England’s worst COVID-19 infection rates.

Council leaders and MPs requested planning assistance and “feet on the ground” support, according to a statement, in a meeting on Friday with the Government’s national COVID-19 taskforce.

Figures published on Thursday show Kingston upon Hull had 1,944 new cases recorded in the seven days to 15 November – the equivalent of 748.3 cases per 100,000 people.

This is up slightly on 735.6 in the seven days to 8 November, Friday’s statement referring to a “COVID-19 emergency” in Hull.

In the joint statement following the meeting, Hull City Council leader Stephen Brady and MPs Dame Diana Johnson, Karl Turner and Emma Hardy said: “We’ve had a positive meeting with the Government and discussions for military support are underway with a request for assistance with planning and actual ‘feet on the ground’ to support the administration of our targeted lateral flow tests.

“We also made the point that we would be keen to be part of any pilot on mass vaccination with additional logistical support.”

The leaders said it was likely Hull will emerge in Tier 3 or in an even higher bracket after the national lockdown is scheduled to end on 2 December.

They said they had also made the case for extra discretionary financial support for businesses, as well as for the city council itself, and said there are plans to meet with Government again in a fortnight.

Test tubes with COVID-19 coronavirus labels on
Kingston upon Hull currently has the worst COVID-19 infection rates in England (Picture: PA).

Earlier this week, the Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said there were 188 confirmed COVID-19 positive patients in hospital in the city, with 14 of those in intensive care.

Last week, Hull’s Director of Public Health, Julia Weldon, said this figure could soon rise to 400 or even 500 “in the next couple of weeks”, given the rising infection rates.

Recent action has seen about 2,000 military personnel support Liverpool in its mass testing pilot, a two-week deployment which the city has asked to be extended until 4 December.

Friday’s meeting followed a personal plea to Prime Minister Boris Johnson from Mr Brady on 13 November, in which he said that Hull has been “forgotten” by central Government.

“Liverpool were provided with the Army to support them, we have been offered nothing,” said the Labour council leader.

Cover image: A soldier assisting coronavirus efforts in Liverpool earlier this month (Picture: MOD).