More members of the armed forces are now involved than during the previous spring peak of the pandemic.
On Monday, 800 soldiers from nine British Army regiments were deployed to Manchester to help carry out asymptomatic testing of certain groups who are more likely to catch the virus—such as social care staff, bus drivers, and care home workers.
“The task builds on lessons from previous asymptomatic community testing in Liverpool, Lancashire, Merthyr Tydfil, Medway, and Kirklees,” the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
“In addition to community testing, military personnel remain on-task testing hauliers in Dover and helping to establish ten new testing sites to improve the flow of traffic across the Channel.”
Over 500 military personnel are helping provide testing to hauliers.
“1,500 Armed Forces personnel have also been provided to support schools testing, with local response teams providing virtual support and phone advice to institutions,” according to the Ministry.
The UK government started the rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on Monday in a race against a rising tide of infections that has been unchecked by recent national and local lockdown measures.
The government’s scientific advisers attribute the uptick to the spread in the southeast of a new variant, which several preliminary studies suggest is transmitted around 40 to 70 percent more quickly.
The military has also been lending its logistical prowess to vaccine rollout, directly advising the national Vaccine Task Force, and providing over 150 personnel deployed to support organisational and logistical components of the vaccine Deployment Programme.
From Monday, an additional 390 military personnel will support testing in Kent, 205 personnel will set up and operate lateral flow test sites in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, and Kirklees, Yorkshire, and 420 will support asymptomatic testing in Lancashire.
“Around one in three people with coronavirus showing no symptoms, asymptomatic testing is crucial to identifying those who might be unknowingly infected, and protecting our most vulnerable,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in a statement.
“These community testing schemes are part of a national testing programme with millions of lateral flow tests arriving in schools tomorrow, for the testing of students and staff, to add to the hundreds of thousands of asymptomatic tests currently being conducted in care homes, across the NHS and in critical infrastructure workplaces and food manufacturers.”
The weekly average death toll from the virus has risen by 24 percent in the last week, with 454 deaths reported for Jan. 3, and the number of cases has risen by 47 percent, according to the latest official data. Hospital admissions for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus have risen by 20 percent over the same week.