BRITISH TROOPS AND RESERVISTS ARE ON STANDBY TO ASSIST HOSPITALS AND EMERGENCY SERVICES AS THE UK ENTER THE NEXT PHASE OF ITS FIGHT AGAINST THE CORONAVIRUS.
Britain’s armed forces have placed up to 20,000 troops on standby as part of a “covid support force” which could set up makeshift hospitals in vacant hotels and help police officers in their duties as the coronavirus escalates.
The new force — made up of 10,000 military personnel who are regularly deployed to civilian activities, plus an extra 10,000 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic — has been placed at “high readiness”. Its future role is likely to focus on transport, logistics and engineering support during the crisis, although this could expand into more specialised functions.
A total of 150 personnel will begin urgent training from Monday so they are able to drive oxygen tankers to the NHS if a gap emerges. Announcing the plans last night, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: ‘The unique flexibility and dedication of the services means that we are able to provide assistance across the whole of society in this time of need.’
Major General Charlie Stickland, Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff, added: ‘Putting more personnel at a higher state of readiness and having our Reserves on standby gives us greater flexibility to support public services as and when they require our assistance.
Thirty-two more people have died in England after testing positive for coronavirus – taking the total number of UK deaths to 104.
It follows the biggest daily leap in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the UK after 676 infections were diagnosed in the last 24 hours.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK now stands at 2,626.