UK officials call for 250,000 volunteers to support nation's health system

UK officials call for 250,000 volunteers to support nation's health system

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock called for 250,000 volunteers to support the U.K.’s health system amid the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday.

"If you are well and able to do so safely, I would urge you to sign up today to help the most vulnerable people in our communities as an NHS Volunteer Responder," Hancock said Tuesday, saying the volunteers were needed for tasks like delivering drugs from pharmacies, transporting patients to and from hospitals and phoning people in quarantine, Reuters reported.

Hancock added that the British government has purchased 3.5 million antibody tests for the virus.

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The call came a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new restrictions on the public to limit the spread of the virus, including a ban on people leaving their homes except to buy essentials or attend to medical needs, or go to work if “absolutely necessary.”

“Without a huge national effort to halt the growth of this virus, there will come a moment when no health service in the world could possibly cope,” Johnson said Monday.

"These measures are not advice, they are rules and will be enforced, including by the police," Hancock told Parliament on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

Deaths from the virus increased by 87 Monday, the biggest daily increase since the pandemic hit the nation, bringing the total deaths to 422, according to the news service. Johnson has said the new restrictions will be in effect for at least three weeks.