The Ministry of Defence has released some details of how it plans to help the country in the fight against COVID-19.
As of 19th March, a total of 3,269 cases have been confirmed in the UK. New daily cases of the virus peaked at 676 on 18th March with 643 new cases being registered on 19th March.
However, because there is no community-based testing, the actual number of people suspected of being infected with the deadly virus is far higher.
Over 177 people have now died after being diagnosed with COVID-19, but this number is expected to increase vastly over the coming weeks.
Northwick Park Hospital in London is the first hospital in the UK to declare a ‘critical incident’ as its critical care capacity is reached.
But the military is now poised to help in the battle against COVID-19.
So far, the military has assisted with repatriation flights from China and Japan.
They are also providing specialist military planners to Local Resilience Forums who are providing support to public services, local authorities and emergency services in preparing their response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Yesterday, the MOD announced further preparation ready to support public services if required including:
- up to 10,000 personnel will be placed at a higher readiness, so they are able to assist with supporting public services. This is on top of the 10,000 already held at higher readiness.
- 150 military personnel will be trained to drive oxygen tankers in order to support the NHS if required. They will begin training on Monday.
- Measures have been taken to enable the call out of Reservists, should they be required to join the response effort
- scientists from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) are supporting Public Health England’s effort to understand the virus and tackle the spread.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
“The men and women of our armed forces stand ready to protect Britain and her citizens from all threats, including COVID-19. 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.
“From me downwards the entirety of the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces are dedicated to getting the nation through this global pandemic”.
The Standing Joint Command will be the Command and Control Structure for the COVID Support Force, which represents the MOD’s contribution to the government response.
Major General Charlie Stickland Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff Operations and Commitments said:
“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.
“The COVID Support Force, potentially drawing upon our highly skilled scientists at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory or oxygen tanker drivers, will form part of a whole force effort to support the country during its time of need.
“Our servicemen and women are committed to maintain our operational output and delivering any support the government requires”.
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