Plymouth commandos run mobile virus test centres in South-West

Royal Marines have helped key workers in the South-West test for coronavirus as they ran two mobile centres.

Personnel from 42 Commando at Bickleigh, near Plymouth, have been drafted in as part of the nationwide response to the pandemic, assisting the running of Mobile Testing Unit in Salisbury and Torquay.

The centres are two of eight around Britain established to test key workers and their families who may have shown symptoms of COVID.

At those eight sites, they are directed to drive through a lane where military personnel provide them with instructions on how to conduct the test – which involves a mouth swab – and to how to dispense with it safely upon completion.

The team has been working really well together and the public have been very friendly and inviting. We’re just happy to be here, supporting the NHS and doing what we can to help the country

Lieutenant Ben Wagstaff

The marines – normally used to supporting the Fleet’s front-line operations such as board and search duties, ship protection and rescuing downed aircrew from behind enemy lines – underwent comprehensive training earlier this month at their base near Plymouth.

They set up their mobile centres at a park and ride car park in Salisbury and at Torquay coach station.

Key workers – who remain in their vehicles at all time - drive up, show their ID to the commandos, who are wearing PPE, and then receive instructions on how to perform the tests themselves, all courtesy of a series of signs.

“Afterwards, they return the test kit to us which we deliver to Bristol Airport – our regional testing centre,” explained Lieutenant Ben Wagstaff, part of the team assisting in Salisbury.

“The team has been working really well together and the public have been very friendly and inviting.

“We’re just happy to be here, supporting the NHS and doing what we can to help the country.”