British army missing 13,000 personnel at home with coronavirus symptoms


The Ministry of Defence said that nearly ten per cent of the 140,000 strong military personnel were currently self isolating due to coronavirus symptoms or due to family members showing symptoms.

Almost ten per cent of the British army is off sick

Defence chiefs revealed that 9.1 per cent were absent but many were still contributing to the service from home.

Top brass said that less than 100 soldiers had been tested positive for the virus, and that soldiers working alongside the NHS staff are tested if they develop symptoms as they are considered key workers.

The state emerged as the MoD said it was developing a series of mobile labs to help the government test for Covid-19 in rural communities and care homes.

Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, revealed that the Ministry of Defence is helping with the planning and building of the mobile labs – similar to “mobile libraries” to send out into the community.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock outlined this week how he wanted to roll out more testing to tackle the outbreak in care homes, where it is estimated over 4000 elderly may have died – but not included in official stats.

Sir Nick said: “We are also increasingly involved in the government’s testing programme, partly in the planning and everything that goes with that.

“But also with the thinking of ways the testing can be rolled out to isolated communities and indeed perhaps in the future to care homes.

“The idea is to have pop-ups, but like mobile libraries that are able to touch the community more closely are the sorts of things that are in development.

“The military is involved in trying to construct that and to create prototypes that can be let out to industry in short order.”

Military scientists at Porton Down will also help deliver between 5,000 to 10,000 daily coronavirus tests to help the government meet their 100,000 target.

Sir Nick said troops were helping the NHS working on the front line, but most were in planning and logistical roles.

He added: “Our role is very much in support of the heroic health care workers on the front line.

“We are for once in our lives not on the front line, and it is very important that we provide the support that is necessary.

“It’s very much about humility being the watch word, in the way that we help and respond and support others.”

The high proportion of sick personnel raises questions about whether the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier should continue on a training exercise later this month.

It comes as a third of the sailors on France’s aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle – 668 out of nearly 2,000 – are infected with coronavirus and a sailor died on the American ship, USS Theodore Roosevelt after contracting the virus.

John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary said: “These concerning figures make Labour’s case for greater protections and more testing of forces personnel even stronger.
“Our armed forces keep us safe. It is vital we do the same for them.”

Army personnel helped build the Nightingale Hospital in London