Daily Star



- ■ by JAMES CAVEN james.caven@dailystar.co.uk

HEALTH Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday called for 250,000 people to join an NHS volunteer army to fight coronaviru­s.

They will help with medicine deliveries and shopping, and will support the 1.4million vulnerable people being shielded as the country battles Covid-19.

Mr Hancock confirmed a temporary hospital for 4,000 patients will open next week. The Nightingal­e Hospital will be based at the Excel Centre in east London.

He also revealed 35,000 extra NHS staff have joined up to help tackle the disease, including retired doctors and nurses, and final year students.

Mr Hancock said: “We are seeking a quarter of a million volunteers, people in good health, to help the NHS, for shopping, for delivery of medicines and to support those who are shielded to protect their own health.”

The NHS Volunteer Responders’ Scheme will make sure hospitals “get all the support that they can”.

He added: “But no matter how big we grow the NHS, unless we slow the spread of this virus, then, as we have seen, those numbers will continue to rise. That’s why it’s so important that everybody follows the advice and stays at home.”

The health minister said a new testing facility in Milton Keynes opened yesterday, and the UK had bought 3.5million antibody tests to allow NHS staff to find out if they have had the disease and are immune to it so they can return to work.

Mr Hancock also revealed 7.5million pieces of protective equipment, including face masks, had been shipped out in the last 24 hours. He said it had been “literally a military effort to get these millions of pieces of kit out to people”.

He added: ”If people are working on the front line to look after us, it’s vital that we look after them.”

Meanwhile, singers Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott yesterday announced they will play a free concert for 9,000 NHS workers in Nottingham on October 13.

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