Military advice being taken on Maze coronavirus facility design

Health chiefs in Northern Ireland are taking military advice on the design of a Nightingale facility at the Maze but have not yet asked for personnel on the ground.

The armed forces have been involved in building Nightingale facilities and transporting supplies across the United Kingdom.

Earlier this month, Health Minister Robin Swann confirmed he had made Military Aid to Civil Authorities (MACA) requests for help with the transport of equipment across Northern Ireland as well as assistance with the development of a further Nightingale facility.

Coronavirus – Mon Apr 6, 2020
Coronavirus – Mon Apr 6, 2020

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill then claimed he had “acted unilaterally”, without consulting executive colleagues, but said she would not stand in the way of necessary measures to save lives and protect the public.

The latest expert modelling has indicated that the region could see 1,500 deaths in the first 20 weeks of the pandemic.

This is significantly down on previous modelling of up to 3,000 deaths, and Mr Swann’s warning in March that 15,000 could die in a worst-case “nightmare” scenario if social distancing measures were not followed.

The Department of Health has confirmed to the PA news agency that it is currently receiving advice from the military on the “design and specification of a Nightingale facility for a second wave of Covid-19 admissions”.

A spokesman added: “The MoD is also ready to help in the event that the health service requires immediate assistance to transport patients, staff or equipment at short notice.

“Further specific requests for assistance will be made as necessary.”