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Reservists On Standby To Support COVID-19 Response

They will be available to assist public services during the coronavirus outbreak.

Anonymous British soldiers boots

British military reservists are being placed on standby to help in the response to coronavirus.

A new 'COVID Support Force' is being created, where reservists and personnel at higher readiness will be on call to assist public services.

The military has also confirmed the names of two operations during the COVID-19 response - Operation Broadshare, which includes planning for tasks abroad, and Operation Rescript, which is looking ahead to what will happen in the UK.

An extra 10,000 British military personnel are being placed at higher readiness, in addition to 10,000 British personnel already on standby to respond to emergencies.

It brings the total number of troops at higher readiness to around 20,000.

One hundred and fifty military personnel are set to begin training to drive oxygen tankers on Monday - their skills could be used by the NHS if required.

The Defence Secretary is said to have made clear that he wants defence to work out how it can assist the health service further.

Ideas around how the COVID Support Force could provide extra beds and support are being offered up for consideration.

Scientists from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down are also supporting Public Health England in work to understand the virus and tackle the spread. 

A total of 20,000 British troops are now at higher readiness.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "Our armed forces stand ready to protect Britain and her citizens from all threats, including COVID-19.

"The unique flexibility and dedication of the services means that we are able to provide assistance across the whole of society in this time of need.

"From me downwards the entirety of the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces are dedicated to getting the nation through this global pandemic."

Major General Charlie Stickland Assistance Chief of the Defence Staff Operations and Commitments said: "Putting more personnel at a higher state of readiness and having our Reserves on standby gives us greater flexibility to support public services as and when they require our assistance.

"The COVID Support Force, potentially drawing upon our highly skilled scientists at Defence Science and Technology and Laboratory or oxygen tanker drivers, will form part of a whole force effort to support the country during its time of need."

To read more about the UK’s response to coronavirus and Military Aid to Civil Authorities, click here.

Cover image: PA.