Coronavirus: Military Helps To Boost Testing In Leicester

Armed Forces personnel are running five mobile coronavirus testing units across the city as it tackles a rise in COVID-19 cases.

The military is helping to boost the number of people being tested for COVID-19 in Leicester.

The city has gone back into lockdown after a surge of cases.

Personnel from the Royal Logistic Corps and the Royal Artillery are manning five mobile testing unit sites across the city.

In the drive-through system, people are handed a test through their car window and they swab their own nose and throat.

The kit is packed up and handed back to personnel before the tests are all gathered at the end of the day to be sent off to a laboratory.

Ivan Browne, Leicester City Council's Director of Public Health, told Forces News: “The military are doing a fantastic job, a real supportive job in relation to standing up our testing capacity.

"I think that if you look around places like here, there are other places across the city where they are deploying testing facilities, testing personnel to be able to tackle this virus.

Leicester is the first city in the UK to be put into a localised lockdown.

However, there are concerns that other coronavirus hotspots across the country could also be placed under a local lockdown.

A sign encourages members of the public to follow social distancing guidance.

Mr Browne told Forces News there could be a "whole range of factors" as to why Leicester has become a hotspot.

He said: "I think that when you’re in any urban environment, very dense, you know, we’ve got some real pockets of deprivation, some of the work practices and patterns we have here, are all areas that allow, potentially, viruses to spread.

“So I don’t think that we are unusual in a sense in relation to some of our other cities, but we really need to be in the position where we try and keep those figures down.”

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Defence announced an extra 1,763 military personnel were being deployed to support the roll-out of an additional 140 mobile coronavirus testing units.

Mr Browne said there could be an increased military presence in Leicester to help with testing. 

“As we expand, that could very well be a possibility, we recognise it is a resource that needs to be happening around the country," he said.

“So we just want enough to be able to do our job effectively, but what I can say is that, where we have been so far, the military have been incredibly supportive in terms of meeting gaps that we identify.”

Testing is a key part of the Government’s strategy to track and contain the virus.

As well as mobile testing sites being run by the military, there are also drive-through sites that are being run by private contractors.