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UK exceeds call for 250,000 NHS volunteers to help in coronavirus crisis

By Scott Maclennan

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Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has revealed 405,000 people have offered their help to the NHS in response to a call made last night.

At his daily briefing, Mr Johnson took the opportunity to thank NHS staff and those obeying the lockdown but also reiterated the danger of overwhelming the health service by taking risks like going out unnecessarily.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock issued the original call “rallying the troops” for the war on coronavirus, with volunteers being called up to help vulnerable people stay safe and well at home.

The government sought up to 250,000 volunteers to help up to 1.5 million people who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions.

Volunteers will be involved in delivering medicines, driving patients to appointments, bringing them home from hospital, or making regular phone calls to check on them at home.

Mr Johnson said: “I want to thank everyone who's been following the clear rules we set out on Monday and I want to thank everyone in the NHS, the frontline of the fight against COVID-19.

“But I also want to offer a special thank you to everyone who has now volunteered to help the NHS. When we launched the appeal last night we hoped to get 250,000 volunteers over a few days, but I can tell you that in just 24 hours 405,000 people have volunteered."

He underlined the importance of obeying the lockdown rules and added: “What everybody needs to recognise is that our NHS, like any world-class health service, has only limited numbers of doctors, nurses and specialist equipment, so that the more people who become sick at any one time, the harder it is for the NHS to cope.

“And so it's vital to delay the spread of the disease and reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment at any one time. That's why we have given the clear instructions that people must stay at home unless they have one of the reasons set out not to.”

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