Earlier today the UK MoD released three sets of images of British troops assisting with COVID-19 Testing for key workers at sites around England last week.
This evening General Sir Nicholas ‘Nick’ Carter, Chief of the Defence Staff, joined Dominic Raab, the First Secretary of State, for the daily Downing Street Briefing on COVID-19. The General made mention of the role of these troops, some of the estimated 3,000 personnel (out of the 20,000 on standby with the COVID Support Force) who are believed currently deployed on Operation RESCRIPT to provide Military Assistance to the Civil Authorities (MACA).
General Sir Nick spent some time at the podium detailing the various roles being undertaken by UK Armed Forces helping fight the pandemic. As he was concluding his speech we formally asked the UK MoD Press Office in Whitehall for a transcript of the prepared statement he appeared to be reading from. When / if this arrives* we will update this post.
Updated 07:00, 23 April: See update at the foot of this page for an extract from First / Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s statement, which was immediately issued by the Foreign Office. We are still awaiting a copy of General Carter’s statement.
Updated 19:00, 29 April: *Regrettably no transcript, or copy, of the formal statement read out by the CDS seven days ago has yet been received from the UK MoD Press Office.
Armed Forces Provide COVID Tests For NHS Key Workers In London ~ Thursday 16th April
Military personnel are providing COVID testing to NHS key workers at sites set up nationwide.
Soldiers from The Grenadier Guards and from The Royal Anglian Regiment have been trained to safely deliver COVID tests as part of government response work, and they are now deployed at a site in Wembley, London.
The site has been set-up in the IKEA carpark in Wembley, and it offers a drive-through facility that can test over 500 NHS personnel a day. Working alongside civilian staff from local authorities, and from Boots and Deloitte, it is a team effort and the military contribution has been welcomed.
Once trained in the process and delivery of safe testing, the Army personnel are uniquely useful in being able to redeploy wherever new sites may be set up. Furthermore, with further training of more soldiers taking place in Barracks, the soldiers are adding skills to the government arsenal used to fight the pandemic.
Military Personnel Assist at Haydock Park Testing Facility ~ Friday 17 April 2020
Troops from York based 2 Signal Regiment are conducting COVID19 testing for NHS Keyworkers at Haydock Park Racecourse near Liverpool.
The ten soldiers from 214 Signal Squadron have been testing at the facility for the past week as part of the Military Assistance to Civil Authority (MACA) taskings ongoing during the COVID situation. The team of soldiers are working alongside G4S and Boots to operate the drive through lanes at the Haydock Racecourse Testing Centre from 9am to 5pm every day. The centre is one of 13 across the UK for testing NHS Keyworkers and their families who are self-isolating or symptomatic. The centre has five drive through lanes with appointments booked through the NHS Trusts for those workers needing testing.
COVID-19 NHS testing site in Plymouth, Devon ~ Saturday 18 April 2020
Corporal Jason Norris (left), an Army infantryman of the Royal Welsh Regiment from Tidworth providing specialist testing training to members of Support Company, 42 Commando, at a COVID-19 NHS testing site in Plymouth, Devon. The training was provided to the troops of the Commando Unit to enable them to support the national response to the COVID-19 crisis.
~ Updated 07:00 23 April 20~
First Secretary Pays Tribute To The Troops
First Secretary Dominic Raab gave the 22 April daily press briefing on the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and paid tribute to the troops.
Extract from First Secretary of State & Foreign Secretary’s statement on COVID-19, 22 April 2020: “With General Carter here, today, I think it is only fitting to pay tribute to the amazing work of our fantastic armed forces and the whole MoD led by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.
“They have been there every step of the way, helping us to build the new NHS Nightingale hospitals to reinforce our critical care capacity. Supporting our Local Resilience Forums in delivering Personal Protective Equipment where it’s needed most. And helping also deliver the mobile labs which are critical to ramping up of testing capacity right across the country. As a result of those efforts and that team work, hospitals have been able to treat more patients, as result they save more lives and we have ensured that the peak of this virus has not overwhelmed the NHS.
“And, today, our armed forces are again part of that team as we announce two new deployments to the NHS Nightingale facilities in Harrogate and Bristol. Across the UK, this extra hospital capacity which itself comes on top of the 33,000 additional beds we’ve managed to free up across the NHS. That is the equivalent of building an extra 50 district general hospitals. And as I said, that has safeguarded the capacity in our hospitals to care both for Coronavirus patients but also make sure other people get the urgent care or the emergency treatment they need.
“People used to joke in this country that you could never build a hospital that quickly. Well, we didn’t just build one, we built seven and we thank our armed forces for helping to make that happen. And, you know, for many countries around the world, including modern democracies, the sight of their military on the streets in a national emergency could be a cause for concern or even trepidation. But for the British people, the sight of our armed forces working side by side with our brilliant NHS staff offers a calm reassurance that the task is at hand, that we will come through this crisis.”