The Government are looking at existing contingency operations to provide support to the civil authorities.
Lynn Browne Shadow Minister for the Treasury, asked via a written Parliamentary question:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether his Department is preparing to train service personnel to perform essential (a) public health, (b) nursing and (c) civil protection functions in the event that work forces are depleted or reassigned during the peak period of covid-19 infection.”
James Heappey, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, replied:
“Defence has a number of existing contingency operations to provide support to the civil authorities, including the Police and Her Majesty’s Prisons and Probation Service. In light of the likely additional call on military assistance to mitigate COVID-19 related staff absence in civil authorities, Defence is reviewing its plans, training and readiness in order to support additional requests.”
Covid-19 in the UK
As of the 17th of March, after performing 50,442 tests, the Government say that there have been 1,950 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom. 60 people in the UK with confirmed infection have died and one further death has been confirmed in the British Overseas Territory of the Cayman Islands. Additionally, one British citizen died in the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
The Ministry of Defence can already call on 300 GPs, 1,200 nurses and a significant amount of surgeons. While many of these personnel already work full-time in the NHS, the MoD could deploy 2,500 combat medical technicians if requested to do so.