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COVID: Military Provides Support As Mass Testing Scheme Reaches Wales

The UK Armed Forces are assisting local officials in Merthyr Tydfil borough.

The British military is supporting the first county in Wales to take part in the UK’s mass coronavirus testing scheme.

More than 160 personnel are helping to carry out the programme in Merthyr, helping local officials set up as quickly as possible.

The scheme will see the use of ‘lateral flow’ devices, which can turn around results in under an hour.

Also receiving help from the forces, Liverpool has rolled out the pilot for the mass testing programme and has requested personnel continue their deployment until 4 December.

Meanwhile, Merthyr Tydfil has seen the biggest drop in cases in Wales, from around 770 cases per 100,000 to now below 260, following the country’s 17-day ‘firebreak’ lockdown.

The military supported test scheme was launched at Rhydycar Leisure Centre, with more sites due to open through Merthyr Tydfil County Borough throughout November.

If an individual in Merthyr tests positive using a ‘lateral flow’ device, they will then receive a swab test before returning home to self-isolate.

Watch: Brigadier Joe Fossey talks through the lateral flow test earlier this month.

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said: “Mass testing is hugely important in our continued fight against the virus and the UK Government has been working night and day to deliver capacity right across the UK.

“At the same time, the UK Armed Forces has provided crucial support and additional expertise to our NHS and ambulance service in Wales throughout the pandemic," he added.

“Working alongside the local council, Welsh Government and the NHS, the significant support the UK Government is now giving to roll out Wales’ first mass-testing programme in Merthyr shows, once again, that we are better tackling the coronavirus united across the four nations of the UK and making the best use of our shared resources.”

All residents will be offered repeat testing, even if asymptomatic, to help identify and break chains of COVID-19 transmission.

Cover image: Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, in September. (Picture: PA).