Saturday, November 7, 2020

Military forces drafted in as Europe risks being overwhelmed by Covid cases

Military personnel gather at Pontin's Southport Holiday Park, north of Liverpool, to assist in a Covid-19 testing pilot scheme.

Laura Smith-Spark, Florence Davey-Attlee, CNN

Liverpool, England (CNN) - The soldiers of 1st Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment are used to driving armored vehicles in combat for the British Army. Now they've been called up to a new front line -- in the fight against Covid-19.

Over the top of their military fatigues they now wear plastic aprons and face shields. They've been trained to administer new rapid tests for the virus on members of the public, shuttling swabs from booths to test tubes to get results in as little as half an hour.

The soldiers are among 2,000 military personnel who have been drafted in to help roll out a new mass testing program in England's northwestern city of Liverpool.

The UK government hopes to test the entire population of nearly 500,000 in 10 days. It's a voluntary scheme open to anyone who lives and works in the city, regardless of whether they have symptoms. And it's the largest call-up of the military to help with a civilian crisis in recent years.

While some residents may prove reluctant, hundreds of people were lined up waiting when the doors first opened Friday at a Liverpool sports center now serving as a test site.  Read more >>