Covid-19 patients could soon be evacuated from the Isle of Wight by military helicopter, although the Isle of Wight NHS Trust has yet to issue a statement to the County Press.

It was widely reported yesterday that military helicopters could soon be used to take Islanders to the mainland, as local coronavirus infection rates soar.

The reports followed comments by the Isle of Wight NHS Trust's Medical Director Stephen Parker, who was quoted in The Guardian newspaper as saying it could be within days.

The County Press is awaiting a statement.

An exercise in April 2020 saw a Chinook land at Seaclose Park in Newport.

Commenting on yesterday's reports, Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely said that if military helicopters were needed, the operation would be similar to other airlifts regularly carried out by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance and the Coastguard.

Mr Seely said: “Modelling to predict pressure on beds is being regularly done. The trust has several dozen Covid patients at the moment.

"It expects numbers to rise and peak in the next two to three weeks.

“St Mary’s has the capacity for more people than it is currently dealing with and can flex to provide more beds if need be.

“There is a risk to services if rates continue to rise and we may have to transfer Covid patients to the mainland.

"Transfer to the mainland happens regularly, although clearly in a pandemic, it may happen more.

"The important thing is that Islanders are cared for.”

At 4pm yesterday (Tuesday), Covid-19 infections rates on the Isle of Wight stood at 1,119.4 cases per 100,000 people – more than 10 times the number on December 19.