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Coronavirus: RAF's medical evacuation of patient from Aldergrove among 'multiple requests' for military assistance

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No details of how the armed forces assisted were revealed

No details of how the armed forces assisted were revealed

PA Archive/PA Images

No details of how the armed forces assisted were revealed

The Department of Health (DoH) has confirmed that there have been multiple requests for military assistance for patients during the Covid-19 outbreak.

No details of how the armed forces assisted were revealed, but the Ministry of Defence (MoD) stated that a Royal Air Force A400M Atlas aircraft had "supported the first medical evacuation from Northern Ireland to the UK mainland during the coronavirus outbreak".

A spokesperson for the MoD told the News Letter that the patient was taken from Aldergrove to East Midlands Airport "following a request for assistance" and that medical specialists were "on board to attend to the patient throughout the transfer".

It is understood that the patient was critically ill and needed transported for specialist care when the incident took place last week. A source told the paper that it had been a "humanitarian" and "purely medical" mission.

Last month, Health Minister Robin Swann said that he would be formally asking for military assistance to the civil authorities but Sinn Fein objected as Mr Swann had failed to bring it to the Executive first.

The most significant military assistance would involve turning the Eikon Centre at the site of the former Maze Prison into a Nightingale hospital, if that were to go ahead.

A spokesperson for the DoH said: "The department is receiving military input on the design and specification of a Nightingale facility for a second wave of Covid-19 admissions.

"Formal requests for military assistance are most likely to be required in relation to immediate assistance to transport patients, staff or equipment at short notice or where commercial or other alternatives are not suitable.

"As requests for assistance to date have involved treatment for individual patients, it would not be appropriate to share further details of these."

Belfast Telegraph