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Nov 5 2020

NATO Troops TAKE PART in NHS COVID Pilot

SOUTH CERNEY, Gloucestershire, U.K. - Personnel from the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, supporting NATO experts and key enablers on Exercise 'Loyal Leda 2020', are taking part in a U.K. National Health Service (NHS) Test and Trace pilot to support the government’s COVID-19 'mass testing' programme.

Participants of this large NATO Command Post exercise are being tested using ‘lateral flow antigen tests’, which provide rapid results. These tests are part of a pilot, supporting NHS Test and Trace to understand how best to utilise this new technology at scale.

Baroness Dido Harding, Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, said:

This pilot is one of many which will lay the foundations for the next phase of NHS Test and Trace – mass testing - which will allow us to test even more people, even more quickly.

The Allied Rapid Reaction Corps was selected to take part in this pilot as it provides a unique opportunity to trial the Lateral Flow Tests at a 

large-scale event, which has ‘military cohorts’ applying social distancing measures, within a Covid protected environment, over a three-week period.

The ARRC are working with local Health Protection Teams as well as Defence Public Health to deliver safe and effective care for our personnel whilst protecting the public. Testing at the start of the exercise ensured the working environment was Covid protected from the outset. Any individuals who then experience symptoms or are identified by a series of further tests during the exercise will be isolated to help break the chain of transmission. This will ensure any potential or positive cases are safely managed in accordance with government guidelines. A final round of tests will take place prior to returning from exercise, to assure families and communities that every step has been taken to protect them.

This testing is just one element of a comprehensive Covid plan for the exercise. A force protection working group, established at the onset of the pandemic, developed a detailed risk assessment for the U.K. deployment and layers of risk mitigation measures. To date, changes include altering the location and scale of the exercise to reduce the risk of international transmission, separation from local communities, distancing of participants in both time and space, use of protective equipment and face covers and embracing technology to deliver all aspects of the exercise in novel and experimental ways.

Story by Allied Rapid Reaction Corps Public Affairs Office

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United Kingdom