Anonymous troops with Union Jack CREDIT MoD

Coronavirus: 100 Military Personnel To Support Testing In Birmingham

Birmingham City Council's deputy leader said Armed Forces personnel would be used in an "extra capacity, feet-on-the-ground sense".

Anonymous troops with Union Jack CREDIT MoD

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has announced around 100 military personnel are to support Birmingham City Council with its Drop and Collect coronavirus testing scheme. 

Birmingham was placed under new, tighter lockdown measures earlier this month, and latest figures show a rise in coronavirus cases in the city over the past five days.

The council's deputy leader Brigid Jones told a meeting of the West Midlands Combined Authority on Friday that the initiative involved going door-to-door in high-risk areas, offering testing kits to people with or without symptoms.

She told the meeting: "We have been in talks with the military about them giving us some extra capacity for Drop and Collect.

"It’s very much in an extra capacity, feet-on-the-ground sense. It’s literally just to support the civilian effort side of things and we’ll be in a position next week to confirm whether or not they will be providing extra capacity and how that might be working."

Ms Jones said of the door-to-door scheme: "We are doing it because these are areas where there are very high levels of COVID and we believe there may be asymptomatic people and other people in the community who haven’t accessed tests.

"We are two weeks into intervention in Birmingham, where we have been asking households not to mix in gardens and homes because those are still the areas where we think we are getting the most cases from, followed by workplaces where social distancing isn’t being observed properly."

Hospital admissions in the city are described as having been "high, but stable" over the last few days, while 6.7% of tests are now coming back as positive, amid a rise in cases among those aged 20 to 40.

"Our plea to residents would be, if one of our staff knocks on your door, please take up the opportunity to take a test," Ms Jones added.

Armed Forces personnel played a key role in the rollout of UK coronavirus testing sites during the nationwide lockdown in the spring before later handing it over to civilian contractors.

In the seven days up to 22 September, Birmingham recorded 1,648 new COVID-19 cases.

Cover image: MOD.