As the U.K. grabbles with its growing coronavirus crisis, some 250 000 people have registered to volunteer with the National Health Service (NHS), the U.K.’s publicly funded healthcare system to help those with underlying health conditions.
The NHS put out a call for volunteers over the age of 18 and in good health to assist the country’s 1.5 million people living with underlying health conditions who have been advised to self-isolate for three months. By this morning, the NHS had exceeded its target, just one day after the health secretary Matt Hancock announced the new volunteer scheme.
Stephen Powis, the medical director of NHS England said there has been “oubreaks of altruism.”
Volunteers can register to chat with people self-isolating or to deliver food and drugs. Individuals can also volunteer to provide transport for patients who are medically fit for discharge and can assist in moving equipment, supplies, and medication between different NHS sites.
The volunteers will be joined by 11, 000 former health practitioners and 24,000 students currently in their final year of medical school.
The U.K has at least 8,167 coronavirus cases, with 423 deaths reported so far. The country was placed under strict lockdown on March 23, with all non-essential businesses required to close. People can only leave home to buy basic necessities, help the vulnerable, give blood or travel to and from work when “absolutely necessary.” Individuals are also permitted to do one form of exercise outside but can only do so alone or with one member of their household.
Today, Prince Charles, the 71-year-old royal who is next in line for the throne, announced that he has tested positive for coronavirus. He is now self-isolating in Scotland with the Duchess of Cornwall.