There are now more than 90,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the UK, with more than 12,000 people dying in the UK due to the outbreak. Some evidence may suggest the number of infections and deaths are beginning to plateau in the country, but the UK is still a long way off being back to full fitness.
The NHS has been praised for its response to the UK’s pandemic, and all sectors are being asked to help with the national effort.
This surprisingly includes the space sector, with the UK Space Agency launching a £2.6million initiative for the industry to develop space-enabled technology and services that can strengthen the NHS’s response to coronavirus.
According to a statement on the website of the European Space Agency (ESA), which is working with the UK Space Agency, this includes satellite communications, satellite navigation, Earth observation satellites or technology derived from human spaceflight.
Amanda Solloway, science minister, said: “The UK space sector is a world leader in applying satellite and data technology to challenges we face on Earth, from responding to natural disasters to managing outbreaks of infectious disease.
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“We are all in this together and this new funding will help develop practical solutions from one of our most innovative industrial sectors to support our brilliant NHS.”
Nick Appleyard, Head of Downstream Business Applications at ESA’s European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications in Harwell, Oxfordshire, said: “Even in normal times, satellites and space technology offer solutions to our needs in connectivity and inclusion, in resilience and logistics, and to support healthcare provision in even the most extreme situations.
“The current circumstances challenge the space business community to show just how much it can offer, to help us through this once-in-a-century event.”
The ESA said: “The funding is being made available to support projects to develop hi-tech solutions that address: logistics within the health delivery system, for example, drone deliveries; managing infectious disease outbreaks; population health and wellbeing; recovering health system function and handling backlogs after the crisis; and preparedness for future epidemics.”