RAF personnel begin supporting coronavirus testing in Birmingham 300920 CREDIT BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL

Coronavirus: 100 RAF Personnel Support Testing In Birmingham

They are supporting Birmingham City Council's Drop and Collect initiative which is designed to boost the city's testing capacity.

RAF personnel begin supporting coronavirus testing in Birmingham 300920 CREDIT BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL

Around 100 Royal Air Force personnel are supporting coronavirus testing in Birmingham. 

The personnel are supporting the city council's 'Drop and Collect' testing initiative as part of the Military Aid to Civilian Authorities (MACA) system.

The Drop and Collect initiative involves delivering coronavirus testing kits to people with or without symptoms who are living in high-risk areas.

Councillor Paulette Hamilton, the city council's cabinet member for health and social care, said: "I’d like to thank everyone involved in the Drop and Collect testing service: council staff, volunteers from across our partner agencies and the military personnel who are now supporting this effort.

"It is vital we drive down our infection rates and increased testing is an essential part of this."

Birmingham was placed under new, tighter lockdown measures earlier this month.

It comes amid a second surge in coronavirus cases across the UK.

On Tuesday morning, a further 7,143 coronavirus cases had been confirmed across the UK - the highest daily figure recorded since the outbreak began, although far more tests are being carried out now than in the spring.

Birmingham City Council sought military assistance after launching its Drop and Collect scheme, with deputy leader Brigid Jones on Friday saying the military would act "very much in an extra capacity, feet-on-the-ground sense".

“Our figures have been ramping up and the RAF - the military - have been offering us help and support from the very beginning," she said.

“They take the tests to the houses, they explain to people what to do with the test, and then they come back within an hour and they collect the test.

“Please don’t be intimated if a military person knocks on your door, they’re very friendly,

"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," the councillor added.

Brigadier AJ Smith, Joint Military Commander West Midlands, said: "We are well placed to help with the fight against coronavirus and remain ready to provide support as and when the situation demands it."

Staff from Birmingham City Council, the NHS and wider public sector have volunteered as part of the Drop and Collect initiative which is designed to boost testing in the city. 

The military has experience of coronavirus testing, playing a key part in the rollout and manning of testing sites across the country during the nationwide lockdown earlier this year before handing it over to civilian contractors. 

Cover image: RAF personnel have begun to help Birmingham City Council with its coronavirus testing programme (Picture: Birmingham City Council).