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COVID: Defence Secretary Joins Personnel Bolstering Lancashire Test Scheme

Military teams are trialling new methods to fight the virus.

The Defence Secretary has joined personnel coordinating some of Lancashire's COVID testing programmes at a police headquarters.

Ben Wallace watched troops at work at Lancashire Constabulary in Preston, trialling new methods to increase the self-sufficiency of community groups in testing.

Teams from the forces have now been invited into workplaces throughout the region, carrying out rapid turnaround lateral flow tests.

After a Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA) request was submitted by Lancashire County Council, up to 40 groups of six military personnel from UK Resilience Unit 13 are being made available to locations across the county.

Once tests have been carried out, troops go on to train the groups to continue the programme for themselves.

It is hoped the rates of COVID-19 within groups who are unable to work from home will fall as a result of routine daily tests, in turn keeping the local economy alive during the latest national lockdown.

Personnel are helping to support coronavirus defence efforts at Lancashire Constabulary in Preston.

"People need supplies and supermarkets," said Mr Wallace, adding that defence benefits from Lancashire's contribution to the aerospace industry.

"Taking testing to the people, finding people who are infectious but not showing symptoms – really, really important – every one of those people we find could potentially help slow down the infections."

This new method of testing will allow for greater tracing and control of the virus, explained Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Davis, Commanding Officer, UK Resilience Unit 13.

"If you have testing where we are asking people to volunteer to come to a site, we can't take any action to necessarily contain the spread, whereas if we go to a specific site, we can take action within that site," he said.

Lt Col Davis said the force has been "well received" by community groups so far and is planning to hand over its duties to the local authority within the coming weeks.

Once their duties are handed over the personnel will be ready if needed to assist the Government's vaccination rollout programme.