Soldier in Liverpool
Coronavirus

COVID: Local Authorities In Tier 3 Areas Can Apply For Military Support

Soldier in Liverpool

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 a six-week rapid testing programme.

Boris Johnson this week said the initiative should save some people from having to self-isolate.

It is currently unclear how many military personnel could be called in to help, or if all areas that apply for assistance will automatically receive it. 

About 23 million people across England are going to be placed in tier three - which has the toughest levels of restrictions - once the current lockdown ends on Wednesday.

Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Leicester, Lancashire, Slough, Bristol and Kent are among the areas that will be placed in tier 3. 

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said NHS Test and Trace staff and military personnel will assist with planning, logistics, funding and communication support. 

The programme will also see the supply of lateral flow tests which have been administered by around 2,000 personnel in Liverpool during a mass testing pilot.

Results from the rapid turnaround tests take up to an hour.

Based on the number of troops supporting the testing scheme in Liverpool, which has a population of around 500,000, more than 46,000 personnel would be needed to test everyone in tier 3.

Troops during the testing pilot in Liverpool.
Troops during the testing pilot in Liverpool.

There is now around 14,000 personnel held at graduated readiness as part of the Ministry of Defence's (MOD) Winter Preparedness Package - on standby to assist local authorities with coronavirus over the winter period.

A Government spokesperson said: "From next week, local authorities that fall into tier 3 will be able to apply for support from NHS Test and Trace and the Armed Forces to deliver a six-week rapid community testing programme.

"This includes access to lateral flow tests and planning, logistics, funding and communications support. A full prospectus setting out how the programme will work and how local authorities can apply will be published on gov.uk next week."

It comes after the news that thousands of military personnel will be "on call" over the Christmas period to help with COVID-19 and other potential scenarios, although it is understood the majorty of servicemen and women will be able to leave their base or place of work.

Cover image: MOD.