William and Kate in secret visit to NHS staff tackling coronavirus outbreak
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have described NHS staff as the ‘very best of our country and society’ during a secret official visit.
The pair praised the selfless dedication of frontline health workers after witnessing first-hand how they are dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK.
Prince William urged the public to heed expert advice on social isolation after a visit to an NHS 111 call centre in Croydon, south London.
The unannounced visit took place on Thursday, but was kept secret so as to not put any additional pressure on the centre, avoid crowds gathering and not clash with the Queen’s statement to the nation in which she urged the country to ‘work as one’.
Afterwards, William said: ‘The last few weeks, and more recent days, have been understandably concerning with the continuing spread of coronavirus.
‘But it’s at times like this when we realise just how much the NHS represents the very best of our country and society – people from all backgrounds and walks of life with different experiences and skills, pulling together for the common good.
‘Not only are NHS staff and emergency workers responding to the needs of the public, they – like the rest of us – are concerned about their families, friends and loved ones.
‘They need our support as much as we need theirs.’
The Duke said he passed on the thanks of his entire family, including Prince Charles and the Queen, to the NHS 111 staff.
He added that everyone had a role to play to protect the ‘most vulnerable,’ adding: ‘That means acting on the latest expert advice, staying home if we or those we live with have symptoms, and avoiding non-essential contact to help reduce the spread of the virus.’
The couple heard that the number of calls from the public had quadrupled since the crisis began and that the 999 service had just had the busiest three days in its history.
The visit saw the couple adhering to the latest protocols about dealing with the disease, with no handshakes, frequent hand-sanitising and a conscious effort to socially distance themselves from people.
Today, the day after the visit, even stricter rules on social distancing were enforced by Boris Johnson with the closure of all pubs, restaurants and gyms.
After the announcement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he was establishing a coronavirus job protection scheme to help employers hit by the outbreak.
The death toll has now reached 177, with London the hardest hit region.
One NHS trust in the capital has already declared a critical incident, saying they are running out of intensive care beds