Gov’t calls in army to help hit coronavirus test target

Defence and security

The government has called in the military to test essential workers for coronavirus in a bid to hit their 100,000 tests a day target by Thursday.

Military mobile units are already operating in some of the UK’s “hard to reach” areas, with plans to expand the number to “at least 96 new pop-up facilities” travelling to care homes, prisons, police stations, benefit centres and fire stations.

The number of tests carried out yesterday (Saturday) was 29,058 – 298 more than on Friday but still some 71,000 of the government’s daily target which health secretary Matt Hancock has repeatedly pledged will be met by the end of April.

Britain’s largest network of diagnostic labs in history

Specially trained military personnel will collect swabs at the pop-up facilities that will be tested in one of three “mega labs” with the results delivered in 48 hours, reports the BBC. The scheme follows a successful pilot last week and scores of new units are expected to be utilised by the beginning of May.

Military units will conduct tests in areas where there is “significant demand” and will hopefully close the gap between the ‘capacity’ for tests – currently around 50,000 – and the ‘actual’ number carried out (around 30,000).

Prof John Newton, the government’s coronavirus testing co-ordinator said the drive to increase tests had resulted in “scores of new testing facilities and Britain’s largest network of diagnostic labs in history”.

Army to test Scottish key workers at care homes

British army units will test key workers at Scottish care homes this week, Jeane Freeman, Scotland’s health secretary told BBC Sunday Politics Scotland.

“We anticipate in the coming week we will have five of those [army units] and then that will be followed by a further eight,” said Freeman.

“We’ll be able to offer that more direct mobile testing facility as well as what is currently under way through our NHS labs.”

‘Gov’t on target to hit 100,000 daily tests’ – Raab

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab told this morning’s BBC One Andrew Marr Show the government was “on track” to hit 100,000 daily tests having conceded they had to “ramp testing right up”.

Raab, who has been deputizing for Boris Johnson during his hospitalisation for Covid-19 and his recuperation, said: “”We have certainly got to get the daily testing right up to hundreds of thousands which, along with the tracking and tracing, gives us… more flexibility because we can open up measures, open up access.”

Raab said:”That, along with the vaccine and therapeutics will be the medium to long-term way of dealing with coronavirus sustainably and responsibly for good.”

The prime minister returns to work tomorrow (Monday) and, reports the Telegraph, he is “raring to go” after recovering at Chequers.

The latest figures show 20,732 deaths in hospital of patients with Covid-19, a rise of 413.

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