Eight mobile testing units for the coronavirus or COVID-19 staffed by the army are beginning the travel around the UK, with dozens more to follow for helping the government in completing the target of 100,000 testings a day for the novel virus.
The Health Secretary Matt Hancock had promised the number of testing to reach the target by April 30 but by Friday it was only 28,760. The refitted vehicles are going to collect the throat swabs that will be sent to the laboratories for processing, the Department of Health stated in a statement on Sunday.
UK tackling Coronavirus outbreak
A further 96 of the units will start operating during May. The units can be set up in under 20 minutes and will carry out tests on essential staff such as those who work in care homes, the police and prisons, and have found it difficult to travel to fixed, drive-through test centres.
There are concerns that a lack of testing could slow Britain's gradual exit from lockdown and delay the revival of its economy, the world's fifth-largest. The mobile units carried out a trial run last week in Salisbury, Southport and Teesside. In Northern Ireland, the units will be staffed by contractors, not the army, the statement said.
(With agency inputs)