Boohoo deploys Army to help Lancashire's fight against Covid
One of Lancashire's biggest private employers has signed up the Army to help in the fight against coronavirus.
Burnley-based boohoo.com, the online fashion giant, welcomed the Army to its base this week in a joint initiative with Lancashire County Council as it looks to roll out lateral flow Covid-19 testing to its 2,000 employees.
The programme, which beings next week at the retailer's sprawling warehouse and office, will see 12 bohoo staff administer lateral tests to colleagues which indicate whether an official test is needed to check for the virus.
Army personnel were on site yesterday to train the trainers, as boohoo's head of operations Paul Corrigan explained.
"We want to play our part in helping stop the spread of this virus in our community. Lateral testing is an ideal way for big employers likes ourselves to keep our colleagues and their families safe," he said.
"The test indicates whether that person might be positive and, if so, they are then directed to take an official government test. The Army were here to train our trainers so to speak, and it was a great success. We will be beginning the tests next week on a two-weekly basis.
"As you can imagine having so many employees it is a huge logistical effort, but we want to protect our colleagues, their wider families and the community by limiting in-work transmission of the virus."
The Lancashire Post revealed earlier this month that 420 army personnel are working out of a base at Lancashire Constabulary headquarters in Hutton, where they are spearheading asymptomatic testing in hotspot areas such as large businesses, schools and faith centres, then training people in those locations on how to test daily, using lateral flow kits provided by Lancashire County Council.
The team had found notable hotspots in warehouses where staff live in houses of multiple occupation, as is the case with some boohoo employees.
Army spokesman Major Matthew Nuttall said: "Personnel from 2 REME, based in Scotland, have been visiting businesses, places of worship and town halls around Lancashire since before Christmas at the request of the county council and those bodies.
"The idea is for large organisatios such as bohoo to become self-sufficient in the lateral flow testing, whuch should help stop the spread of the virus."
Lt Col Mat Davis, commanding officer of 2 REME, leading the operation, believes when the Army leave Lancashire to roll out the scheme in other counties, there will be the capacity to carry out 4,000 tests a day.
Lancashire was chosen because when the request was made in October, the county had one of the highest rates of infection in the UK.
Sites chosen are decided by local public health bosses and requests from businesses and groups themselves.