ARMY medics from Colchester have been helping with a groundbreaking coronavirus antigen test trial which could help patients get results within 20 minutes in the near future.

A total of 90 medics, including some from 16 Medical Regiment, have been working with Public Health England to run the trial to at secondary schools in Lewisham, Poole and Salisbury.

The study involved testing pupils and staff who were not displaying symptoms to assess the efficiency of the new mass testing technology, which can give people their coronavirus test results in less than half an hour.

If the technology passes the trials, it could be used in the likes of airports and music venues in future to give fast, accurate results on the go.

One of the medics involved was Sergeant Louise Arthur, of Colchester’s 16 Med Regt, who worked alongside Public Health England to carry out testing at Sedgehill School in Lewisham.

Sergeant Arthur, a professional Army nurse, said: “We were told on Tuesday lunchtime we were supporting this work the next day, so we had to quickly get ourselves organised.

“On Wednesday morning the Public Health England staff walked and talked us through how to use the equipment and then we’ve just got on with it and been working together to test as many children and staff as we can.”

The test sees a swab taken from the back of throat, which is then smeared on to a chemical test strip which indicates within 20 minutes whether the person tested has Covid-19.

It is designed to provide rapid results to be used in public venues such as airports and theatres.

Sergeant Arthur added: “The test is a really quick and simple process. After we’ve checked paperwork and done the test, the person is in and out within two minutes, and everyone has been absolutely fine with it.

“As medics, it’s been interesting for us to be involved in developing a bit of cutting-edge science which, if it passes all the trials, will enable us to live alongside Covid-19 better and help us take a step towards normality.”

Colchester troops’ involvement in this trial is the latest in a long list of tasks the regiment has carried out in support of the Government’s response to the pandemic.

In March they deployed a team to the Falkland Islands to bolster the intensive care capability of the island’s hospital and the unit has also provided paramedics to support the East of England Ambulance Service in their work across the region.