UK falls silent in remembrance of key workers who have died amid coronavirus pandemic

  • Video report by ITV News Reporter Martha Fairlie

The nation has fallen silent in tribute to key workers who have died in the coronavirus pandemic.

Boris Johnson, who battled the illness himself, including a spell in intensive care, was among those observing the minute’s silence on Tuesday at 11am.

Hospitals, homes, places still working during the lockdown, paused to mark the sombre occasion, remembering the thousands of people to have died so far during the outbreak.

  • A minute's silence is held for key workers who have died in the Covid-19 outbreak:

On Monday, health secretary Matt Hancock revealed that of the 21,092 people who had died of coronavirus in UK hospitals, 82 were NHS colleagues and 16 worked in social care.

Unison, the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal of College of Nursing launched a campaign last week for the nation to take a moment to honour frontline staff who have died during the Covid-19 crisis.

Between them, the organisations represent more than a million NHS and public service workers including porters, refuse collectors and care staff.

Boris Johnson bows his head in Downing Street to mark the silence. Credit: PA

Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “This moment will bring together a sombre but grateful nation.

"Whether in nursing or driving buses, our heroes kept going to work when many had the luxury of staying at home.

"Nobody should go out to work and risk their life.

“This must not be the last time that sacrifice is recognised.

"The country and its leaders owes a tremendous debt to these key workers and the many more who are on shift again today.”

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: "Boris Johnson has seen first-hand how NHS staff are going to remarkable lengths to keep us all safe.

“The least we can all do is spare a moment to pay our respects and show our gratitude to all the key workers who have lost their lives.”

England’s top nurse and doctor have also backed the silence, saying they want everyone to pause together to remember those who have died.

Chief nursing officer for England Ruth May said: “Every death is a tragedy but we feel the loss of fellow health and care workers particularly keenly.

“I want people across the NHS and the whole country to come together and remember health and care workers who have lost their lives to this cruel virus.”

NHS England chief Professor Stephen Powis said: “This is an opportunity for us all to pay tribute to doctors, nurses, cleaners and many other NHS staff who have died in this pandemic.

“I hope the whole nation will fall silent in tribute and show how much their contribution is remembered and appreciated.”

Tuesday’s silence will coincide with International Workers’ Memorial Day.

NHS England has said it is considering how to formally commemorate and celebrate the dedication of those who have died while caring for others, and will work with families, loved ones and staff to find “the most respectful and appropriate way to do so”.

Nurses outside Royal Derby Hospital. Credit: PA

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