COVID: Military Start Community Testing In Greater Manchester

Up to 1,000 personnel will be on hand to help deliver the testing by next week.

Armed Forces personnel are in Greater Manchester to help deliver community testing.

Currently, 122 soldiers from the Royal Lancers and 4 SCOTS have been deployed to the metropolitan county.

However, by next week there will be up to 1,000 servicemen and women on the ground.

They hope to mirror their efforts during the mass testing pilot in Liverpool but the testing taking place in Greater Manchester is a new targeted approach, with tests provided solely to key workers.

"We were involved in supporting the testing in Merseyside, in Liverpool specifically," Colonel Russell Miller, Commander North West Army, said.

"This [testing scheme] is different. We’ve learned some lessons from Liverpool and some from Lancashire, where we’re already testing as well,” he explained.

Colonel Miller added that the local authorities in Greater Manchester aim to do “targeted testing but at scale”.

The hope is also for them to be able to test the same people multiple times.

"Hopefully, we’ll do that as a serial process, so there will be more than just one test.

"Every few days they can come back and be tested," he said.

Military personnel in Eccles Town Hall in Greater Manchester prepare to deliver covid coronavirus mass testing 120121 CREDIT BFBS.jpg
Eccles Town Hall is one of the 130 asymptomatic testing sites in Greater Manchester.

Eccles Town Hall, in Salford, is one of the 130 testing sites for asymptomatic people.

The Armed Forces’ involvement was requested by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett told Forces News they are seeing “the COVID-19 numbers in the city of Salford rise”.

He said: “Today I was told, I think, Salford’s number [of cases] is over 420 per 100,000.”

“It’s absolutely fantastic that Armed Forces personnel have come forward and offered support not only [to] the city of Salford, but the whole of Greater Manchester.”

Before the centre opened to the public, military personnel completed their training using the rapid turnaround lateral flow tests.

“We started training last week and we’re just now finishing up, making sure we’re pretty much perfect for when it comes to just regular people, everyday people, coming in,” Trooper Lewis Olden told Forces News.

This week, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) said the Armed Forces' response to COVID-19 had become the biggest ever homeland military operation in peacetime, with more than 5,000 personnel involved.