Coronavirus: RAF Deployed To Derbyshire For Community Testing

Anyone aged over 11 without symptoms is being urged to get tested, in a bid to drive down the spread of infection.

More than 50 RAF personnel have been deployed to Derbyshire to assist with lateral flow rapid turnaround COVID testing.

Grove Hall in Swadlincote, South Derbyshire, is the first of three centres to open its doors in the county for targeted community testing.

Two further centres will open in the area on 29 December, bringing the military involvement to around 120 personnel.

Anyone aged over 11 without symptoms is being urged to get tested, in a bid to drive down the spread of infection.

Derbyshire County Council leader Barry Lewis told Forces News: "I think it would be almost impossible to deliver it [the testing] in the way that it needs to be delivered without the help and support of the military.

"Right through from the military planners involved at the desktop stage, all the way through to actually implementing it and putting the strategy in place on the ground.

"One of the most important dimensions of having the military support and the help on the ground is that the public value it; they see that the military is there... it gives reassurance, real reassurance, I think."

Among those getting a test was local Andrew Brown who told Forces News: "I just want to be on the safe side, really. I’d like to know if I have it, so I can do the sensible thing and stay home out the way."

South Derbyshire residents queuing outside Grove Hall, Swadlincote, for COVID-19 testing.

Bryan Richards, who was also getting a test, said he wanted to protect friends and family.

"If we have got it, we can isolate, keep elderly relatives safe and if we haven't got it [it is] a bit of security for future knowledge," he said.

Royal Air Force personnel from stations across the UK have gathered at RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire to be trained to carry out COVID-19 testing.

Once completed, the personnel will deploy to the testing programme run by Kirklees Council, which includes Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

Currently, 1,388 personnel from all three services are deployed on 53 COVID-19 tasks across the UK, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

About 14,000 service members are being held at graduated readiness as part of the MOD's Winter Preparedness Package – on standby to assist local authorities with coronavirus needs over the winter period.