The UK Government has agreed to deploy around 800 personnel from nine British Army regiments to support targeted Covid-19 testing efforts in the Greater Manchester region.

The move was taken following a request of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), through the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

As decided, personnel will support targeted asymptomatic testing of specific populations who work in high-risk environments across all ten local authority areas of the Greater Manchester.

The step comes as the UK entered the third Covid-19 lockdown to contain the latest spike in the number of cases following the identification of the new highly contagious coronavirus variant.

In addition to Manchester, the armed forces are being deployed in Kent and Lancashire to support community and asymptomatic testing efforts respectively.

Military personnel are also working to establish and operate lateral flow testing sites in Swadlincote, Derbyshire and Kirklees, Yorkshire.

UK 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.”

Overall, more than 5,000 military personnel are currently deployed on 70 different tasks to support the coronavirus response efforts.

Last month, the British Army developed a disinfectant spray capable of eliminating 99.99% of the Covid-19 virus in 60 seconds.