Some 405,000 people have answered the government’s call to volunteer with the NHS during the coronavirus crisis.
Boris Johnson said at Wednesday’s coronavirus press briefing in Downing Street: “That is already, in one day, as many volunteers as the population of Coventry.”
It comes just 24 hours after Number 10 put out its appeal for 250,000 volunteers to battle COVID-19.
Johnson said of the volunteers: “They will be driving medicines from pharmacies to patients, bring patients home from hospital [and] very importantly, they will be making regular phone calls to check on and support people who are staying on their own at home.
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“They will be absolutely crucial in the fight against this virus.”
More than 170,000 people had signed up overnight, with the figure rising to 405,000 by the time Johnson took Wednesday afternoon’s briefing.
Health secretary Matt Hancock, who launched the appeal for volunteers on Tuesday, said he is “so proud of the British public” after Johnson’s announcement.
“I owe you a debt of thanks,” he added.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens praised the “overwhelming response”.
He said: “Times like this show just how generous the British people are and how much they value our health service – we are blown away by this response and the kindness of our country.”