Mass testing in schools could be carried out by armed forces, suggests Defence Committee head

27 December 2020, 10:04 | Updated: 27 December 2020, 10:08

By Seán Hickey

British troops can help prevent 'hugely disruptive' closing of schools in the new year by assisting in mass testing programmes.

Tobias Ellwood MP understood "how concerned parents are" about the impact Covid-19 has had on their children's education and warned the UK has "a couple of difficult months ahead" if we don't get on top of the virus, especially in school settings.

The chair of the Defence Select Committee told Andrew Castle that he was investigating "whether the armed forces could do more to assist the [UK's] 30,000 schools," citing their contribution at Dover to end massive queues of lorries trying to get to mainland Europe.

Mr Ellwood added that the question is "how can we make sure that we ensure our schools continue to be open," and for him it is a no-brainer that the armed forces can ensure this.

"The impact on our children's education has been absolutely colossal and hugely disruptive," the Tory MP argued, and told Andrew this cannot continue into 2021.

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Mr Ellwood argued the army will greatly ease the burden on the NHS in assisting in testing at schools
Mr Ellwood argued the army will greatly ease the burden on the NHS in assisting in testing at schools. Picture: PA

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Mr Ellwood pointed out that "testing is the way forward" in the fight against coronavirus and in order to level-up our testing regime we should ask for assistance from British troops.

He added that "they come in to support public health," in times of great strain and currently the NHS is stretched to its limit – deploying the armed forces will relieve that strain.

The end goal of such intervention is to give institutions the skills to manage the challenges tehmselves in the long run, and Tobias Ellwood strongly believed that the armed forces will give British schools the ability to run their own testing.

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