The number of people volunteering to help the NHS tackle the coronavirus pandemic has surged past 400,000, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
Speaking at Number 10’s daily press conference on the outbreak, Johnson said some 405,000 people had put themselves forward for the scheme within 24 hours of a government appeal.
“I also want to offer a special thank-you to everyone who has now volunteered to help the NHS,” Johnson said.
The government had been hoping for 250,000 healthy people to volunteer to support the NHS in its fight against Covid-19.
Over 170,000 volunteers signed within a few hours of the call going out, an NHS official said this morning.
“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 responded to the call,” Johnson said.
The new NHS volunteer force will help the vulnerable during the outbreak by delivering food and medicines, providing transport for patients and supplies, and telephoning those who are becoming lonely due to self-isolation.
“At times of crisis people come together,” Stephen Powis, the national medical director of NHS England, told the BBC earlier.
“This is a health emergency and we can all play a role,” he added.
The volunteer network aims to reach up to 1.5 million people who are “shielding” — staying at home for 12 weeks under government advice to protect those who are eldery, pregnant, or have serious underlying health conditions.