Covid-19: South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis calls for military help

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A mobile testing unit in ScotlandImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
Dan Jarvis' letter praised the "excellent, strategic capabilities" of the armed forces

South Yorkshire's mayor has urged the government to draft in military help with coronavirus testing in the region.

Dan Jarvis said it was facing a potential local lockdown as cases continue to rise.

Latest figures show Sheffield had 94.7 cases per 100,000 in the week to 27 September, Rotherham 82.9, Barnsley 54.3 and Doncaster 46.5.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "NHS Test and Trace is providing tests at an unprecedented scale."

Mr Jarvis - an ex-paratrooper - has written a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, calling on him to "act decisively, before we see more lives, jobs and businesses across South Yorkshire put at risk."

His letter also praises the "excellent, strategic capabilities within our armed forces", according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Mr Jarvis became the Labour MP for Barnsley Central after 15 years in the army and was then elected Sheffield City Region mayor in May 2018.

Image source, UK Parliament
Image caption,
Mr Jarvis served in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan

In a statement, The Department of Health and Social Care said NHS Test and Trace was providing 225,000 tests daily on average over the last week and "the vast majority of the public" had no issues with the process.

"This is a team effort, and we are working very closely with local councils, including in South Yorkshire, to provide additional support such as walk-through test sites, mobile testing units, as well as dedicated contact tracers", it said.

Testing capacity was expanding and the number of testing sites in Sheffield had doubled since July, it added.

Military personnel have been involved in testing in parts of Birmingham providing test kits to people in their homes.

Mr Jarvis's letter also urged the government to increase testing, introduce priority access to testing for key workers and provide clearer public messaging.

"The country must draw upon every resource at its disposal if we are to manage the risk posed by Covid-19 in the days, weeks and months ahead" he added.

Image source, AFP

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