Coronavirus

COVID: Army To Support Surge Testing In Blackburn And Bolton

It comes as Boris Johnson warned the Indian COVID-19 variant could "pose a serious disruption" to the planned easing of UK restrictions.

The Prime Minister says the British Army is to be deployed on the streets of Blackburn and Bolton to hand out coronavirus tests as part of surge testing efforts.

The vaccine rollout there is to be sped up, which includes longer opening hours at vaccination centres.

It comes as Boris Johnson warned that the Indian COVID-19 variant could "pose a serious disruption" to the planned easing of UK restrictions and "could make it more difficult" to end them as hoped in June.

He also stressed that if the variant proves to be "significantly more transmissible" than other strains, "we're likely to face some hard choices".

Mr Johnson said: "If you're seeing loved ones, think really carefully about the risk to them, especially if they haven't had that second dose or if it hasn't yet had time to take full effect.

"I want us to trust people to be responsible and to do the right thing. That's the way to live with this virus while protecting the NHS and restoring our freedoms.

"It's very clear now we're going to have to live with this new variant of the virus for some time so let's work together, and let's exercise caution and common sense."

The next phase of easing restrictions in England is to come into force next Monday – 17 May.

The Armed Forces have played an important role in coronavirus testing during the pandemic, including supporting testing programmes in Greater Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham

Cover image: A soldier assists with coronavirus testing in Kent last year (Picture: MOD).