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The US Navy has established the Sentinel Surveillance Testing (SST) programme to test asymptomatic service members for coronavirus (Covid-19).

The tests will identify individuals suffering from the virus and help to detect a potential second wave.

Testing and collecting of reports is set to take place in two-week increments.

The establishment of the centre is aimed at minimising the transmission of the coronavirus across the force.

Previously, the service focused on maintaining virus-free deployable units. However, with increased testing, the US Navy plans to expand its testing efforts and test asymptomatic populations.

Early detection of the disease will break the chain of virus transmission.

To be conducted in phases, testing will commence with the initial focus on populations with a higher risk for infection and transmission.

High risk populations include healthcare workers, training teams, security guards at entry control points, childcare workers, and galley employees.

The team will test instructors and students at learning centres, fleet readiness centres, and high-density office personnel.

The testing capacity will increase once the process is further refined.

Naval Operations for Operations, Plans, and Strategy assistant deputy chief Rear Admiral Karl Thomas said: “Our nation is entering a dangerous period of complacency and Covid fatigue that we can’t succumb to.

“The military must not let its guard down, the navy in particular. SST will help detect asymptomatic individuals and thus protect our forces, and allow leadership to understand transmission patterns to adjust processes and measures when and where needed.”

The testing will continue to inform the navy’s understanding of Covid-19 transmission.