Nearly 100 mobile coronavirus test units occupied by 1,000 soldiers will hit the road this week as the government struggles to reach 100,000 tests a day.
The goal is for each unit to perform up to 300 tests per day on front-line sites such as nursing homes for internal beneficiaries, police stations and prisons, benefit centers and fire stations.
Announcing this decision, Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace said, “Our armed forces will help provide tests where they are most needed, using a network of 96 mobile units to be deployed in the coming weeks.
“They will ensure that our healthcare sector gets the tests necessary to stay on the front line of the fight against this pandemic.” “
The goal is to give essential workers and the most vulnerable have improved access to coronavirus testing.
According to the government, mobile tests will go wherever demand is high.
The move is the government’s latest attempt to boost testing after Health Secretary Matt Hancock set the ambitious goal of 100,000 tests a day – which many cabinet colleagues doubt can be achieved – by this Thursday, April 31.
“I am now setting the goal of 100,000 tests a day by the end of this month,” Hancock said at a press conference in Downing Street on April 2.
“This is the goal and I am determined to get there. “
Describing military testing, peer conservative Lord Bethell, a junior health minister who is responsible for the government’s testing program, said, “Anyone who needs a coronavirus test should be able to access it. .
“New mobile test units will be crisscrossing the country to provide front-line workers with essential tests so that negative tests can return to work safely.”
“We have strengthened the system’s capabilities with new test facilities supported by world-renowned scientists and industrial partners. This means more workers can find out if they have a coronavirus if they have had symptoms.
“Testing is essential in our fight against coronaviruses. We are now able to provide more people with the certainty they need to return to the front line when it is safe. ”
National government testing coordinator John Newton added: “Across the country, we are creating new infrastructure to rapidly increase our capacity to test for coronavirus.
“New mobile test units will help us reach our goal of 100,000 coronavirus tests per day, providing testing to vital front-line workers wherever they need it.”
“In a matter of weeks, we have worked with Britain’s leading scientists, academics and industrial partners to build dozens of new test facilities and the largest UK network of diagnostic laboratories in history.
“Every day we deliver more coronavirus tests and allow more front-line staff who test negative for the virus to return to work safely.”
Last week, the government announced that other front-line workers will join the priority list for coronavirus testing, alongside the current commitment to ensure that patients and NHS staff are tested for the disease. virus.
The government’s goal is to deploy 96 mobile test units in May – 92 will be staffed by the armed forces and four others, located in Northern Ireland, will be operated by civilian contractors.
As part of a pilot program last week, Department of Health vehicles were refitted to become fully operational test sites, in accordance with a design developed by the Royal Engineers of the British Army.
As a result, the Department of Health reports that there are already eight mobile units testing across the country, including in Salisbury, Southport and Teesside.
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The government says its mobile facilities can be installed in less than 20 minutes, testing hundreds of people every day and are now moving to the most needy and the hardest to reach.
Specially trained military personnel will collect swabs from mobile sites before sending them to mega-laboratories for processing.
Test takers will receive their results within 48 hours.