Coronavirus Testing Capacity Boosted With More Than 1,700 Extra Military Personnel

Some 140 mobile testing units will also be added as the military continues to play a "vital" role in the UK's response to COVID-19.

The UK's coronavirus testing capacity is due to increase considerably, thanks to the largest military deployment seen since the pandemic began.

An extra 1,763 military personnel will be supporting the roll-out of an additional 140 mobile testing units.

It will bring the total number of the testing facilities to 236, up from 96 at the end of April.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the military is playing a “vital” role in the UK's pandemic response.

He said: “Testing is at the heart of the strategy for beating coronavirus.

"The UK Armed Forces have played a vital role in ensuring that key workers and the most vulnerable are able to access that testing where and when they need it most.

"Our military will continue to support however possible and for as long as needed, in order to keep the British people safe as lockdown measures are adjusted.”

22nd Signal Regiment Mobile Test Unit West Midland Safari Park CORONAVIRUS 28062020 CREDIT MOD
Troops from 22nd Signal Regiment testing for the virus at West Midland Safari Park (Picture: MOD).

So far, the military has helped administer more than 500,000 tests, supporting the Government’s National Testing Strategy and delivering testing across the UK, including remote areas.

Brigadier Lizzie Faithfull-Davies, Commanding Officer of 102 Logistic Brigade, has been in charge of getting military mobile testing centres up and running from the start. 

She told Forces News: "I think for the soldiers, it's been quite a rewarding task. It's something very different from anything they've ever had to do before.

"But we've had over 20,000 soldiers and military personnel at readiness for the coronavirus crisis and really, I think for most soldiers, to be doing something is better than doing nothing.

"And I think with the mobile testing units and the support to the regional test sites as well, where they've been able to physically do something during this crisis, they've felt they've been able to contribute in a small way to helping the general public."

The Government reached its target of 200,000 tests per day at the beginning of June.

According to the Department of Health, there were 127,709 tests done in the 24 hours to 9am on 28 June.

More than 43,000 people in the UK have died with COVID-19 - the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Cover image: A soldier carries out a coronavirus test at a facility in London (Picture: MOD).