ARMY units have been providing support in and around Worcestershire during the coronavirus crisis.

With mobile testing sites in Evesham, Droitwich, Redditch and Bromsgrove, armed forces personnel have delivered more than 86,000 self-testing kits at mobile testing units, and 4,000 tests across the West Midlands.

The Mobile Testing Units (MTUs), each consisting of 12 soldiers, have been deployed across the region, managing the units and collecting and dropping off care home kits to care homes on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care.

Troops have set up fully functioning test centres, designed in partnership with British Army engineers, in less than 20 minutes, with each unit possessing the ability to test hundreds of people per day.

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Brigadier AJ Smith, the joint military commander in the West Midlands, said: “The flexibility of the Armed Forces is second to none, and it has been fantastic to be able to play a key part in providing mobile testing to so many in the community. We remain ready to provide support as required.”

The soldiers have been drawn from Regiments across the UK, including Stafford-based 1st Signal Regiment, 16th Signal Regiment and 22nd Signal Regiment.

Also involved are Redditch-based 37th Signal Regiment; Wiltshire-based 26th Regiment Royal Artillery (RA), 32nd Regiment RA, 47th Regiment RA and 9th Regiment Royal Logistic Corps as well as reservists from three Royal Auxiliary Air Force Squadrons.

The soldiers deployed to the West Midlands have been part of Operation Rescript, the name of the military’s contribution to the cross-government fight against the pandemic. 

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People arriving at the mobile testing units, who have pre-booked tests on, do not need to leave their cars to be tested. 

They are first welcomed by soldiers who explain how the test will be carried out. The troops, wearing personal protective equipment, pass test kits to the drivers who then park their car to take the test, involving a nose and throat swab, before driving onto another station where they hand over their test.

 The soldiers store the samples in refrigerated cool boxes in a specially kitted out van before they are taken to a laboratory. Results are returned in one to two days.