Army

Coronavirus: How The Military Runs Mobile Testing Units

The military has helped carry out nearly half a million tests since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

As the UK continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, roughly 3,000 Armed Forces personnel are helping to test the public for the virus.

Members of the British military have helped carry out half a million coronavirus tests, but how do the military run the mobile testing units?

A small team from 1st Battalion Irish Guards are responsible for helping establish mobile testing centres around the south of the UK.

Forces News was given special access to the soldiers as they set up a unit at Tadworth Leisure Centre in Surrey.

Upon arrival, the car park is empty and it is up to the soldiers to transform it into a fully-functioning testing centre.

Despite having to set up a number of stands and tents, one soldier told Forces News it only takes "15/20 minutes" to get the centre ready.

"This is our fourth time [setting up a unit], so we're used to it now," said Lance Sergeant Stephen Doyle. 

Those arriving at the centre do not have to leave their car to be tested.

They are first welcomed to the centre by the soldiers who explain how the test will be carried out.

The public then park their vehicle and take their test, before driving onto another station where they hand over their test.

The unit opens at 10:30am and at 11:45am, the first batch of tests are ready to be collected by a courier which are then taken to a laboratory. 

Specially kitted-out vans with refrigerated cool boxes hold the samples before they are collected, with results being returned between one to two days.

Second Lieutenant Max Brewer told Forces News: "We all joined the Army because we want to serve our country, however that may be, it doesn't always have to be on operations.

"I think that my Guardsman have really risen to that challenge and thoroughly enjoyed it so far."

Soldiers wear personal protective equipment (PPE) throughout the testing process.

The Armed Forces have played a key role in the UK's response to the coronavirus crisis, including delivering vital medical supplies to the NHS and helping to set up the Nightingale hospitals.