20,000 NHS staff return to service, Johnson says from coronavirus isolation

NHS staff outside the St James’s University Hospital in Leeds Credit: Danny Lawson/PA

Some 20,000 former NHS staff have returned to help in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak, Boris Johnson revealed as he praised the significance of society while self-isolating with Covid-19.

The prime minister chose to contradict the “there is no such thing as society” endorsement of pure individualism from his Conservative predecessor Margaret Thatcher in the video message.

“We are going to do it, we are going to do it together. One thing I think the coronavirus crisis has already proved is that there really is such a thing as society,” Mr Johnson said.

The PM thanked the doctors, nurses and other former professionals for returning to duty, as well as the 750,000 members of the public who have volunteered to aid the health service.

Mr Johnson has continued to command the response to the Covid-19 pandemic while sealed behind closed doors in his flat above No 11 Downing Street.

In the video selfie, Mr Johnson said the public appeared to be obeying the terms of the lockdown to slow the spread of the disease, saying train use is down 95% and buses down 75%.

“Thank you to everybody who’s now coming back into the NHS in such huge numbers,” he continued.

“Just this evening I can tell you we have 20,000 NHS staff coming back to the colours.

“It’s a most amazing thing. And that’s in addition to the 750,000 members of the public who have volunteered to help us get through this crisis.”

On Thursday, NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said the figure of former professionals who had volunteered to come back stood at more than 15,000.

Mr Johnson’s message came after the nation was warned by deputy chief medical officer for England Dr Jenny Harries that normality may not resume for at least six months.

This does not mean a “complete lockdown” will last the entire time, she stressed, but social distancing measures will be gradually eased as the crisis wanes and the pressure on the NHS eases.

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