UK Coronavirus Outbreak: Firefighters to deliver food, collect bodies
The move comes as the UK braces for the looming peak of the pandemic outbreak which has so far claimed over 550 lives in the country.
The United Kingdom, which has so far reported 578 deaths and 11, 658 positive coronavirus, will now be use firefighters to help deliver food, retrieve dead bodies and drive ambulances. The development comes as the country braces for the looming peak of the pandemic outbreak that has already claimed the lives of more than 22,000 people across the globe.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a virtual lockdown of the world's fifth largest economy to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus banning Britons from leaving their homes for all non-essential reasons.
The UK death toll is the seventh worst in the world, after Italy, Spain, China, Iran, France and the United States, according to a Reuters tally.
Under a deal struck between the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), Fire chiefs and Fire and Rescue Employers, firefighters will continue to respond to their usual emergencies but will now also carry out new tasks.
"We face a public health crisis unparalleled in our lifetimes. The coronavirus outbreak is now a humanitarian emergency and firefighters rightly want help their communities," said Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary.
"Many fear the loss of life in this outbreak could be overwhelming and firefighters, who often handle terrible situations and incidents, are ready to step in to assist with body retrieval."
As well as collecting those who die should there be mass casualties, firefighters can drive ambulances, and take food and medicine to the vulnerable under the agreement.
To cope with the outbreak, Britain has already asked tens of thousands of retired doctors and healthcare workers to return to work, while hundreds of thousands of people have volunteered to assist the state-run National Health Service.
On Friday, the capital's ambulance service appealed to former paramedics and control room staff for help, and London's police force asked officers who have retired in the last five years to come back.
"It is important that we take all reasonable steps to bolster our numbers," London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said.
BRITAIN CLAPS FOR NHS WORKERS
People around the UK took part in a "Clap for Carers" tribute on Thursday evening, saluting NHS and care workers dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The Royal Family and the Prime Minister joined well-wishers who flocked to their balconies and windows to applaud.
On behalf of the whole country, I want to thank all the incredible nurses, doctors, NHS support staff & carers who are working flat out to fight coronavirus ???? #ClapForOurCarers #ClapForNHS— Boris Johnson #StayHomeSaveLives (@BorisJohnson) March 26, 2020
To help them, and protect the NHS, we need everyone to stay at home #StayHomeSaveLives pic.twitter.com/kpdQ5KHQiy
To all the doctors, nurses, carers, GPs, pharmacists, volunteers and other NHS staff working tirelessly to help those affected by #COVID19: thank you.#ClapForOurCarers #ClapForNHS pic.twitter.com/XnaUPJyDoX— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) March 26, 2020
The Earl and Countess of Wessex, and their children, show their support for all those working on the frontline. #clapforourcarers ???????????? #ThankYouNHS . “We are enormously thankful for the expertise and commitment of our scientists, medical practitioners and emergency and public services” - Her Majesty The Queen. Swipe ⬅️ to see photos of The Queen meeting NHS workers on previous visits.
A post shared by The Royal Family (@theroyalfamily) on
There has been criticism that the government has not acted quickly enough to provide protective equipment to frontline healthcare staff and it is also scrambling to source thousands of ventilators to treat those with severe breathing problems caused by the virus.
The government has admitted that it missed an opportunity to join a European Union procurement scheme to source the equipment because of an email mix up.
At the same time, landmarks including Belfast City Hall, Principality Stadium in Cardiff and the London Eye were lit up as part of the #lightitblue salute.
The city has just burst in applause in a #ClapForCarers ????— Culture Liverpool (@CultureLPool) March 26, 2020
Now, various buildings across the city #LightItBlue in a tribute to our @NHSuk ????
Here's a couple, as we say #ThankYou to our heroes across the city and the whole of the UK ???? pic.twitter.com/ZJ7Q1ji8zl