Coronavirus

Coronavirus: Soldiers Train Civilians To Do Testing In Liverpool

It comes as the military prepares to handover coronavirus duties in the city to civilian personnel.

Soldiers from the British Army are training civilians to carry out COVID-19 testing in Liverpool.

Troops from 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment are delivering the training to NHS staff, city council workers and volunteers who will be taking over mass testing sites in the city once the Armed Forces leave, which is expected to be next week.

About 2,000 military personnel have been deployed to Liverpool since earlier this month to support a mass testing pilot in the city which has included the roll out of quick turnaround tests.

Soldiers from 1 YORKS have been carrying out the training at Liverpool Exhibition Centre and Anfield, the home of Liverpool Football Club.

Lieutenant Colonel Tom Miller, Commanding Officer of 1 YORKS, told Forces News it has been "quite a quick flash to bang" for his soldiers who themselves had to learn how to carry out the tests very quickly earlier this month. 

He said: "We’ve learned lots of lessons and ways to make the process efficient and to put it in a more sustainable delivery.

"Those lessons now are being taught to the people who will be able to continue this effort after the pilot is finished."

Lt Col Miller said the pilot in Liverpool is "time-bounded" to the period of national lockdown in England, adding: "What is really important is that we use this time now before the end of lockdown to be able to get the people trained and comfortable with the process to carry it on."

Major Tom Davies, Officer Commanding, Quebec Company, 1 YORKS, said the soldiers are giving the students the opportunity to "cascade" the training so they will be able to pass on the skills they have learned.

Speaking about the lateral flow tests that produce results within an hour, Maj Davies said they are "incredibly simple to use".

"It doesn’t take a lot of time to work out how to use them and they’re really good because they give you an answer so quickly and it’s really easy to interpret that," he said.

Personnel are due to stay in the Liverpool area until 4 December, before going on standby, ready to support further COVID operations if required.

Around 14,000 personnel are now being held at graduated readiness as part of the Ministry of Defence's (MOD) Winter Preparedness Package – on standby to assist local authorities with needs related to coronavirus over the winter period.

As part of the Winter Support Force, servicemen and women will soon help launch a major community testing programme for COVID-19 in England over the winter months.

Local authorities in tier 3 coronavirus areas will be able to apply for support from the Armed Forces and NHS Test and Trace to deliver six weeks of rapid testing.