Members of the British Army’s 101 Logistic Brigade have begun delivering consignments of personal protection equipment for medical staff to hospitals after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a strict lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic.
The army has begun assisting the National Health Service (NHS), with photographs from Tuesday morning showing the army’s logistics team delivering boxes of some 50,000 essential medical masks to St Thomas’ Hospital, which is directly opposite the Houses of Parliament in London.
“What you’ve seen today is a British Army convoy delivering PPE right to the frontline of the nation’s response to the coronavirus challenge.
“But this is more than just delivering masks — this is a demonstration the British Army is standing side by side with the NHS,” Brigadier Phil Prosser said.
While green military vehicles could become a familiar sight on Britain’s roads for the duration of the outbreak, The Times reports that army staff will also be trained to drive civilian heavy goods vehicles. Personnel from all branches of the military will be trained to drive supplies of oxygen to medical facilities.
The COVID support force will see 250 personnel deployed to assist civil authorities, such as the NHS, with the response to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. In total, 20,000 armed forces personnel are on standby to support the country, including specialist military planners.
On Sunday, a Royal Air Force A400M transport aircraft lifted a critically-ill coronavirus patient from a hospital in the Shetland Islands, Scotland, to an intensive care unit in Aberdeen on the mainland. Joint Helicopter Command is also on standby to provide medical evacuation support for people in isolated communities.
It has been reported that the army may also build field hospitals at conference centres, such as the ExCel in London. The 100-acre Docklands convention centre could be transformed into a facility for hundreds of patients. Hotels may also be converted into makeshift hospitals.
The military is also set to support supermarkets in coordinating deliveries of food to vulnerable people.