PM Boris Johnson says 405,000 volunteers have signed up to help UK cope with coronavirus outbreak

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks and takes questions during a press conference in Downing Street regarding the coronavirus outbreak, on March 9, 2020. in London, England.

Alberto Pezzali – WPA Pool | Getty Images

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday that 405,000 volunteers had signed up to help the National Health Service cope with the coronavirus outbreak.

Like many other countries, Britain has enforced a nationwide lockdown.

People have been told to stay at home, with the exception of shopping for essential supplies, exercising once a day, going out for medical needs and traveling to work where necessary.

Nonessential public buildings, from gyms to places of worship, have also been ordered to close, while social events like weddings and baptisms — but not funerals — must be stopped.

On Tuesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock issued an appeal for 250,000 “people in good health” to help the National Health Service (NHS) deal with the spread of COVID-19.

Separately, the U.K.’s health department announced Tuesday that the death toll in the country had risen to 422, while a total of 8,077 have tested positive for the disease.

Neil Ferguson, a top epidemiologist who has advised the government, said Wednesday that intensive care demand would peak in up to three weeks’ time if the country’s strategy works. 

Ferguson, a professor at Imperial College London, had previously warned the U.K. death toll could rise to 500,000 unless the government abruptly changed tack. The steps since adopted by the country could limit deaths at 20,000, the report said. 

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