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The US Department of Defense (DoD) is set to start a tiered coronavirus (Covid-19) testing programme to ensure and protect service members fighting against the pandemic.

The four-tiered testing system means the department will move from a diagnostic focus to a diagnostic-plus-screening focus.

Currently, the DoD also has the ability to expand testing to a wider military population. The new system will prioritise the highest-risk forces, ensure strategic mission assurance and support civilian agencies against coronavirus.

Tier 1 testing will involve those in critical national capabilities such as strategic deterrence or nuclear deterrence, whereas Tier 2 will test fielded forces around the world.

Further, Tier 3 will cover forces being forward deployed or redeploying, and Tier 4 is for all other forces.

The availability of supplies will make testing for the virus more frequent. Testing of service members falling under the Tier 1 category has already began.

However, military personnel and civilians are advised to continue practising social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands and all other precautions as per the guidelines issued.

The US DoD aims to improve overall force availability with the help of tests and other preventive measures in place.

US Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist said: “We now have an estimated 970,000 active duty and civilian personnel teleworking with great success.

“Each month DFAS makes over 5.8 million payments to civilians, active duty, reserve, National Guard and DoD retirees, but because they previously prepared for it and practice extensive telework, they’re sustaining regular operations at full capacity.”

Jobs that require physical presence continue, including training new recruits, working aboard ships and cockpits.

Individuals will be screened with questionnaires and thermometers, that will help identify people at risk. Depending on the risk, personnel will be quarantined for 14 to 21 days to minimise the risk and identify infected service members.