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Detailed guide: COVID Support Force: the MODís continued contribution to the coronavirus response

Ministry Of Defence

November 27
16:45 2020

Examples of activities that the military are undertaking can be found below. This page will be updated with the latest activity on a regular basis.

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COVID Support Force

Since 18 March 2020, the MOD has responded to 252 COVID-19 Military Aid to Civilian Authority (MACA) requests. You can see the story so far, including what activities the military have undertaken on the previous COVID Support Force page.

As of 27 November 2020, there were 2,932 military personnel committed to assist with 54 open MACA requests. This number is kept under constant review and military personnel will be available to support where needed. There are an additional 14,000 personnel on standby as part of the Winter Preparedness Package who can be called upon for COVID-19 tasks.

Planning Support for Local Authorities

The UK Armed Forces have deployed dozens of military planners across the UK. Working with Local Resilience Forums and Partnerships and alongside the Emergency Co-ordination Centres in Scotland and Wales, they are providing additional expert resource to support local communities and businesses and to roll out tracing systems. Military personnel deployed to civil authorities are also helping to free up council resource so Local Authorities can focus on critical areas including enforcing restrictions.

In Liverpool and Halton, 6 Environmental Health Officers (EHO) are supporting the Merseyside Local Resilience Forum and Halton Borough Council. The military EHO are trained extensively in outbreak management and they can interpret the information gathered by the NHS Track and Trace call handlers to identify and map trends, clusters and sources of infection. This information will then allow Local Authorities to follow up in specific areas and conduct any enforcement that may be required. Military EHOs are also supporting authorities in Greater Manchester.

Armed Forces are supporting civil authorities in a range of roles including planning and logistics. MOD Crown Copyright.

Armed Forces are supporting civil authorities in a range of roles including planning and logistics. MOD Crown Copyright.

In Lancashire, 6 planners are supporting the Local Resilience Forum, focusing on supporting communities and businesses who are under Tier 3 restrictions, and rolling out the tracing programme. The planners are working with local districts to support vulnerable groups, ensuring robust plans are in place to give people access to vital supplies and medicines. The planners are also working with districts on support to businesses and the rollout of the COVID-19 marshals.

In addition, our scientists, based at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) have been deployed directly into government departments, local resilience teams and military headquarters, to provide instant assistance, insights and advice to planners and decision makers.

Assisting with the National Testing Effort

The UK Armed Forces have been supporting the governments efforts to increase national testing capacity and support local authorities to get tests to those who need them. In Birmingham, 110 military personnel worked with Birmingham City Council on a Drop and Collect testing initiative, delivering and picking up tests from homes across the city. In Nottingham, military personnel supported the coordination of a volunteer network who helped to deliver the Drop and Collect self-test initiative.

Armed Forces assisted in delivering and collecting tests from homes in Birmingham. MOD Crown Copyright.

Armed Forces assisted in delivering and collecting tests from homes in Birmingham. MOD Crown Copyright.

The military have also supported testing in schools, with over 1,500 tests carried out by 50 military personnel across three schools in October. This was carried out as part of a Public Health England trial to evaluate the effectiveness of rapid antigen tests in a school environment. Around 150 personnel are currently supporting testing in 6 schools across the country.

Our scientists based at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) have been supporting and working with Public Health England to increase testing capacity nationwide. As part of wider testing capability at Porton Down, up to 7000 tests per day can be processed.

In support of Department for Health and Social Care and Liverpool City Council 2,000 specially trained Armed Forces personnel have been deployed to Liverpool to operate around 47 asymptomatic testing sites. At the request of and in close collaboration with local leaders, the Armed Forces are helping to identify and trace more positive cases using lateral flow tests to help break chains of transmission. The military are also supporting the logistics and planning, and a small team of bio-medical scientists are training civilian personnel to conduct the tests.

Armed Forces personnel on deployment to Liverpool to test residents and workers. MOD Crown Copyright.

Armed Forces personnel on deployment to Liverpool to test residents and workers. MOD Crown Copyright.

The military are deployed to support mass testing in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. Around 170 RAF personnel are supporting Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, NHS Wales, Welsh Government and DHSC to deliver mass testing to the town. The personnel are helping to run around 14 testing sites around the town and will use lateral flow tests to help identify asymptomatic cases and break chains of transmission.

RAF personnel deployed to Merthyr Tydfil are supporting whole town testing for all residents, workers and students in the area.

RAF personnel deployed to Merthyr Tydfil are supporting whole town testing for all residents, workers and students in the area. MOD Crown Copyright.

The Armed Forces are ready to support testing as required. From next week, local authorities that fall into tier 3 will be able to apply for support from NHS Test and Trace and the Armed Forces to deliver a six-week rapid community testing programme.

This includes access to lateral flow tests and planning, logistics, funding and communications support. A full prospectus setting out how the programme will work and how local authorities can apply will be published on gov.uk next week.

Vaccine Support

Since 16 November, the Vaccine Task Force has been stood up to identify challenges and ensure the efficient delivery of a vaccine to the public. Currently, defence has placed five planners into the Vaccine Task Force planning team within the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). Two separate military planners are seconded to support the Vaccine Task Force Director.

Additionally, 20 military personnel are assisting with regional vaccine planning, end-to-end logistics and delivery. These 20 personnel are split into groups of two, operating across the 10 NHS regions in England. There are also planners working with devolved nations. Defence continues to stand ready to support the vaccine rollout subject to requests from civil authorities.

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