More than 500,000 people volunteer to help NHS cope with coronavirus in 24 hours, Boris Johnson reveals
Boris Johnson thanked all those who had come forward to help the health service.
More than 500,000 people have volunteered to help the NHS cope with the coronavirus since an appeal was launched 24 hours ago, it has emerged.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on Tuesday that he wanted 250,000 to come forward to assist in areas such as delivering medicines and shopping for high-risk people forced to isolate themselves at home.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Boris Johnson revealed that a total of 405,000 had already come forward.
It was later confirmed that the number of volunteers had reached 504,303 - more than double the initial target.
The Prime Minister said he wanted to "offer a special thank you" to everyone who had signed up so far.
At his latest Downing Street press conference, he said: "When we launched the appeal last night we hoped to get 250,000 over a few days.
"But I can tell you that in just 24 hours 405,000 people have responded to the call.
"They will be driving medicines from pharmacies to patients. They will be bringing patients home from hospital.
"Very importantly, they’ll be making regular phone calls to check on and support people who are staying on their own at home. And they will be absolutely crucial in the fight against this virus.
"That is already, in one day, as many volunteers as the population of Coventry.
"And so, to all of you, and to all the former NHS staff who are coming back now into the service I say thank you on behalf of the entire country."
'CLOSE RUN THING'
Meanwhile, chief medical officer Chris Whitty insisted the NHS will "probably" cope with the expected surge in coronavirus cases - as long as people stick to the social distancing rules brought in by the Government.
He said there is currently "not enormous pressures" on intensive care units, but he expected that to change over the next two weeks.
Mr Whitty said: "This is going to be a close run thing. We all know that. And anybody who looks around the world can see this is going to be difficult for every health system.
"But the measures that have been announced for the general public, which all of us have to do if the NHS is to get through this without exceeding its capacity, ... is the way we will narrow that gap to the smallest possible gap over the next three weeks.
"We do think if everybody sticks to the staying in your household unless absolutely essential, this gap will be probably manageable by the NHS.
"But we cannot guarantee that and nobody who is sensible would wish to guarantee that. But we think that is what we are planning for and that is what we intend to happen."
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