Published: 18:16, 04 December 2020
| Updated: 19:05, 04 December 2020
These pictures show military personnel setting up a mass testing centre at a university campus in Medway.
Teams were spotted near the Students' Union on the University of Kent's site in Chatham which is set to become one of three new centres offering tests to people who show no symptoms of the virus.
It comes as part of Medway Council's plan to reduce infection rates which are growing faster than anywhere in the country.
The pilot scheme - following an example in Liverpool - will test all key workers in the community whether they are showing symptoms or not and will deliver results in around 30 minutes.
Yesterday Cllr Alan Jarrett, leader of Medway Council, confirmed around 175 members of the military will be stationed in the towns to help run the sites.
The first is due to open tomorrow in Chattenden after the deal was agreed with the government and soldiers have already been at Gun Wharf for training.
The third site is yet to be confirmed.
About 15% of people receiving tests in Medway are currently testing positive but the aim is for this to fall to 5%.
If the pilot proves successful, it could be rolled out to the wider public.
The testing programme - previously only available for people showing symptoms - will have capacity for 1,500 per day across Medway's three sites.
It is not yet known when the centre at the university will open but just like before, anyone in need of a test must book online through the government's portal.
Anyone who shows up without a designated slot will not be seen.
Military personnel, drawn from several of units based on 35 Engineer Regiment, will be at the forefront of the project.
The Commander of Joint Military Command South East said: "We [JME South East] are pleased to announce that the Armed Forces, as part of our contribution to the UK’s fight against Covid-19, will be supporting Medway Council’s lead in the delivery of community targeted testing at several sites across the Medway Towns. Our planning team from across the Armed Forces have been engaged with the initial set up of the Medway community targeted testing programme over the past few days."
The Commanding Officer of 35 Engineer Regiment said: "My team and I are here to support Medway Council whilst assisting the Department of Health and Social Care in combating the infection rate within the Medway Towns. I and the rest of the Medway Resilience Unit are eagerly preparing to commence this testing programme so that we can help make an impact on the virus affecting the communities in Medway as soon as possible."
This first phase of Medway testing is for critical workers who live and/or work in Medway and residents in the areas which have the highest incidence of cases. All of those eligible for a test at this stage have been contacted directly.