Boris Johnson thanks more than 405,000 NHS volunteers fighting coronavirus

Boris Johnson has thanked the more than 405,000 volunteers who have stepped up so far to help the NHS during the coronavirus crisis.

On Tuesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock asked for 250,000 volunteers to shore up the service at this time of need.

Speaking from Downing Street, the Prime Minister said the volunteers "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."

In reply to a question about levels of testing in the UK for the virus, the PM denied that the country was behind its European neighbours, and said some 90,000 people had been tested.

The UK's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said there was a "global bottleneck" on buying more testing kits, and said the government's aim would be to buy tests that would allow NHS staff to go back to work if they test negative for coronavirus.

It comes after Prince Charles tested positive for coronavirus earlier today as he and Camilla were treated by the NHS.

This afternoon, it was announced that a senior British diplomat had died from the coronavirus.

Steven Dick, 37, had been the Deputy Head at the British Embassy in Budapest, Hungary, since last year.

He died on Tuesday, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office announced.

There are hopes for new forms of coronavirus testing as the government announced finger-prick tests could be available from Boots and Amazon in days.

The home test kits are set to be rolled out online and in essential shops.

This replaces the current form of testing, which is just using nasal swabs.

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  • Coronavirus
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Police spotted breaking up groups and shutting down shops amid UK lockdown

Police have been spotted locking down towns and cities across the UK after the nation was effectively shut down last night over the coronavirus crisis.

Cops were pictured today patrolling streets, breaking up groups and shutting down shops after Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared a nationwide lockdown.

Officers were – for example – seen closing a store in Hackney, North East London as its employees packed up and left the mobile phone kiosk.

In another incident in the capital, police officers mounted on horses were seen asking a customer to wait outside a bakery while another was being served to comply with social distancing orders.

Meanwhile, in Manchester city centre cops could be seen speaking to several large groups that had gathered in its popular Piccadilly Gardens.

And in the West Midlands this afternoon stunned police shared a picture of a BBQ that was being held by locals defying the UK lockdown in an area of Coventry.

They wrote on Twitter: "Unbelievably, we’ve just had to deal with 20+ people having a BBQ!! Please listen to government advice else this will get worse and will last longer!"

Mr Johnson had announced last night he was putting the UK on lockdown with immediate effect in a new desperate bid to battle the Covid-19 pandemic.

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He said Brits are no longer allowed to leave their homes unless for shopping, one form of exercise, for medical or care needs, or to travel to and from work.

In a special broadcast on all main TV channels, the PM branded coronavirus “the biggest threat this country has faced for decades”.

He said: “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.

“Because there won’t be enough ventilators, enough intensive care beds, enough doctors and nurses.

  • Army spotted delivering coronavirus supplies to hospitals during UK lockdown

“If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

“We will look again in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows we are able to.

“But at present there are just no easy options. The way ahead is hard, and it is still true that many lives will sadly be lost.”

As part of the measures, all non-essential shops have also been ordered to close, except from food shops, pharmacies, corner shops, hardware stores, petrol stations, pet shops, post offices, banks, newsagents and shops inside hospitals.

  • 'A million Brits could have coronavirus by next week' warns Jeremy Hunt

Parks will remain open, but gyms including outdoor gyms, play-parks, all places of worship except for funerals will shut too.

Emergency laws are also being pushed through to give police powers to issue on-the-spot fines of £30 to people flouting the new crackdown.

And the Met Police today confirmed: "Police will be out as usual patrolling the streets of London and will use today to speak to people about the new restrictions to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

"While we fully anticipate the public and business in London will want to adhere to the new restrictions, if we suspect anyone to be in breach of the restrictions we will speak to them, explain what the restrictions require them to do and ask them to comply in order to help prevent the spread of the virus and ultimately save lives."

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