The UK has observed a minute’s silence in a tribute to frontline workers who lost their lives in the battle against coronavirus.
At least 100 NHS and social care workers have died after testing positive for Covid-19 in the UK. Throughout the coronavirus crisis, hardworking frontline staff have continued fighting to save lives, often away from their families and without enough personal protective equipment (PPE).
The country has strived to show their gratitude to workers by taking part in the weekly Clap for Carers event and displaying pictures of rainbows in their windows. Rainbows have become a symbol of support for the NHS.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also led a government silence today after returning to work on Monday. He has repeatedly thanked the NHS staff who treated him while he was in intensive care with coronavirus, stating: ‘I owe them my life’.
The silence was organised by Unison, the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Nursing. Dame Donna Kinnair, CEO and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said the country owes a ‘tremendous debt’ to its NHS staff.
She continued: ‘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.
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‘Nobody should go out to work and risk their life. This must not be the last time that sacrifice is recognised.’
NHS England chief Professor Stephen Powis said he hoped the silence would show key workers ‘how much their contribution is remembered and appreciated.’
It comes just as data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the UK death toll could be 35% higher than official figures. It indicated that 21,284 people died on April 17, rather than the government’s number of 13,917.
The ONS figures are based on mentions of Covid-19 on death certificates, whether or not the deceased had tested positive for coronavirus. The government total is the amount of deaths in hospital. According to latest government figures, the UK death toll currently stands at 21,092.
On Monday, the government announced that the families of health and care staff would receive £60,000 if their loved one dies with coronavirus after working on the frontline. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Of course nothing replaces the loss of a loved one but we want to do everything that we can to support families that are dealing with this grief.
‘As a government we are looking closely at other professions that work on the front line against coronavirus who also do not have access to such schemes to see where this may be required.’
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