US, Britain mobilise tens of thousands of troops to deal with Covid-19 emergency

A US National Guardsman holds up instructions to motorists arriving for their appointments to be tested for the Covid-19 virus in New York. (Reuters pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The US and Britain are expected to mobilise tens of thousands of troops to assist authorities in dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak.

They include thousands of the US Armed Forces’ reserves, the National Guard, who have been called up in 27 states including New York.

Reuters reported that they would assist with cleaning public spaces and to deliver food to homes.

“It’s hard to tell what the exact requirement will be, but I’m expecting tens of thousands to be used inside the states as this grows,” said Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau.

The US has reported nearly 9,000 cases of the Covid-19 virus, including 3,000 in New York state.

Lengyel said the scale of operations to deal with the outbreak was unprecedented.

“It’s like we have 54 separate hurricanes in every state and territory and the District of Columbia… Unlike a hurricane, we don’t know when this is going to dissipate or move out to sea,” he added.

In the UK, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said British troops are on standby “to protect Britain and her citizens from all threats, including Covid-19”.

British media reported that some 20,000 troops would be mobilised to form part of a “Covid Support Force”.

Thousands of troops have also been flown in from overseas to help the National Health Service.

As of today, Britain registered 3,269 confirmed cases, with 144 deaths across the UK.