In Scotland, the army could drive ambulances for longer than the two months originally planned, according to the Scottish secretary, Alister Jack.
One hundred and 14 soldiers have been drafted in to drive non-emergency vehicles for the Scottish Ambulance Service, with a further 111 members of the armed forces helping to staff coronavirus testing centres, PA Media reports.
The recent surge in Covid cases in Scotland has put further pressure on the NHS, with some patients experiencing long waits for ambulances.
Jack said that while two months of support had initially been requested, military help could remain in place “longer if that’s what the Scottish government needs and what it takes to help protect the public”. Writing in the Mail on Sunday, the Scottish secretary said:
The British military is always ready to deploy at the drop of a hat – but they are also here for the long run.
Initially two months of support were requested, but let me be crystal clear about timescales.
The UK’s forces are not in any way restricting the amount of time available. We are happy for this operation to go on longer if that’s what the Scottish government needs and what it takes to help protect the public.
Second highest day of infections reported in Australia's Victoria state
Meanwhile, in Australia, Victoria state reported 779 new Covid infections and two more deaths.
The daily increase was still the state’s second-highest, after the 847 cases recorded on Saturday, as officials battle to contain a Delta variant outbreak.
It comes as the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, announced “a modest easing” to restrictions from Tuesday, 28 September, at 11.59pm local time.
He said Victoria is on track to hit a vaccination target of 80% of first doses delivered by then.
In metropolitan Melbourne and regional areas in lockdown, residents will be able to travel up to 15km from home for exercise and shopping, up from 10km.
‘Contactless’ outdoor recreation – such as boating, tennis or golf – will be allowed, as will personal training with up to five people, as long as everyone is vaccinated.
Playground restrictions will be lifted, with normal gathering limits to apply. Masks can be removed to eat or drink.
Restaurants and cafes in regional Victoria will have their outdoor caps lifted from 20 to 30 people, and hair and beauty salon customers will be able to remove their masks if required for facials or beard trimming.