ARMY personnel will start helping with targeted coronavirus testing throughout the borough from today.

Around 800 staff from nine regiments will prepare to work across all ten local authority areas in Greater Manchester as part of its biggest homeland operation in peacetime.

The armed forces will be offering asymptomatic testing to certain people at higher risk of infection such as social care staff, key workers, public facing occupations such as bus drivers, and those in high risk environments such care homes and shared accommodation for the homeless.

The task follows similar asymptomatic community testing in Liverpool, Lancashire, Merthyr Tydfil, Medway, and Kirklees.

Army personnel were brought in by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), after they requested help from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The new year will see new levels of Armed Forces support to overcoming this pandemic. Thousands of service personnel are working throughout the United Kingdom, wherever they are needed to assist the civil authorities.

“Manchester is the latest of those tasks and will be an important contribution to protecting the highest risk groups as the city seeks to recover. As a North West MP, I am acutely aware of the considerable time many of us have been labouring under some form of lockdown and I hope our soldiers will help us get to the day when these restrictions will start to lift.”

More 5,000 Armed Forces personnel are currently deployed to support the response to Covid-19 across the UK, working on 70 different tasks ranging from schools testing to the rollout of vaccines, say the Ministry of Defence.

Thousands more are supporting efforts through their day jobs in military planning, defence medical services, defence science and technology laboratories and elsewhere, the MoD added.

Lt Gen Sir Tyrone Urch CBE, Commander Standing Joint Commander UK, said: “I am humbled by the sacrifice and dedication of all our people from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force as we continue to contribute to our nation’s fight against the coronavirus.”