Your country needs you: 250,000 'healthy people' wanted to join NHS Volunteer Responders army - with military called in to build temporary hospital

The Health Secretary said 250,000 people in good health are needed to join a new NHS taskforce in the fight against coronavirus.

Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 5:09 pm
Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaking in the House of Commons in Westminster, London on Tuesday March 24 (Picture: House of Commons/PA Wire)

Matt Hancock also said the military will help build a new hospital - dubbed NHS Nightingale - which will be based in London and have two wards capable of holding 2,000 people each.

But he warned that, unless the public adheres to Government orders to stay indoors, which he described as "rules" and "not requests", the number of Covid-19 cases will continue to rise.

"We ask for your forbearance, but I think the public knows it is important and they know how vital a task it is we get a grip on this virus and slow it down," he told a press conference this afternoon.

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"The more we follow the rules, the sooner we will stop the spread, so everybody has a responsibility to follow the rules and, where possible, to stay at home."

Mr Hancock said 250,000 volunteers - who must be "people in good health" - will be asked to "help the NHS with shopping and the delivery of medicines and to support those shielding" for the next 12 weeks inside their homes.

"Responders is a new scheme set up so people can come and help to make sure the NHS, and the local services that are needed, get all the support they can."

He said thousands of people had answered the call for former medics to return to the frontline in the battle against the global disease.

Today's rise in coronavirus-related deaths, from 335 to 422 in the UK, was a jump of 87 and the largest day-on-day increase in deaths since the outbreak began.

It is also a rise of 26 per cent, which is not the biggest percentage day-on-day increase so far, but is higher than the 19 per cent increase reported yesterday.

There were six confirmed cases in Blackpool, 59 in Lancashire, and one in Blackburn with Darwen, though tests are only done in hospital so the true number is feared to be much higher.

Mr Hancock also confirmed that those out in the community helping the vulnerable will be able to continue.

He said: "You should stay at home except to shop for food, for medical reasons, for exercises, or for work, including caring or volunteering in the coronavirus national effort."