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Mobile testing boosted by largest armed forces deployment during pandemic

A further 1,763 personnel will be tasked with providing support to the facilities.

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A Royal Marine carries out Covid-19 testing at a mobile unit in Salisbury, Wiltshire (Corporal Anil Gurung/MoD/Crown Copyright)

A Royal Marine carries out Covid-19 testing at a mobile unit in Salisbury, Wiltshire (Corporal Anil Gurung/MoD/Crown Copyright)

A Royal Marine carries out Covid-19 testing at a mobile unit in Salisbury, Wiltshire (Corporal Anil Gurung/MoD/Crown Copyright)

The UK’s mobile testing unit capacity is to be boosted by the largest deployment of armed forces personnel during the Covid-19 outbreak.

An additional 140 Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) vehicles will be made available across the country, bringing the number of mobile testing units to 236, up from 96 at the end of April.

A further 1,763 armed forces personnel will be tasked with providing support to the units.

According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), this will represent the largest deployment of personnel in support of the Government’s response to the coronavirus crisis, with a total of 2,918 involved.

The increase in support will be phased in over several weeks, the MoD said.

Our military will continue to support however possible and for as long as needed, in order to keep the British people safe as lockdown measures are adjustedBen Wallace, Defence Secretary

So far military personnel have staffed 1,053 mobile testing unit sites, helping to complete more than 500,000 tests.

The MoD said personnel had also helped deliver home testing kits to care homes and operate regional testing sites before they were handed over to commercial operators.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Testing is at the heart of the strategy for beating coronavirus.

“The UK armed forces have played a vital role in ensuring that key workers and the most vulnerable are able to access that testing where and when they need it most.

“Our military will continue to support however possible and for as long as needed, in order to keep the British people safe as lockdown measures are adjusted.”

Mobile facilities, which can be set up in under 20 minutes, allow for testing capacity to reach across the UK, particularly remote locations.

Armed forces personnel collect swabs at the mobile sites, which are then sent to labs for processing.

PA