A dedicated NHS checkout is seen at a Waitrose supermarket in Berkhamsted, Britain March 24, 2020. REUTERS/Paul Childs

Government is looking for 250,000 volunteers to help the NHS and vulnerable people hit by the coronavirus crisis, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Tuesday.

“We are seeking a quarter of a million volunteers, people in good health, to help the NHS, for shopping, for delivery of medicines and to support those who are shielded to protect their own health,” Hancock told reporters.

The volunteers will be asked to help with tasks like delivering medicines from pharmacies, driving patients to and from hospital appointments and phoning people isolating at home to check up on them.

The system aims to reach up to 1.5 million people who are “shielding” – keeping themselves at home for 12 weeks under government advice to protect those with serious health conditions.

“If you are well and able to do so safely, I would urge you to sign up today to help the most vulnerable people in our communities as an NHS Volunteer Responder,” Hancock said later in a statement.

Britain¬†posted its biggest daily rise in deaths caused by coronavirus on Tuesday as the number of confirmed cases increased rapidly, underlining the urgency behind the government’s move to lock down the country.

The death toll across the United Kingdom rose by 87 on Tuesday to 422 as 9am, a 26 per cent increase on the day, the DHSC said in a statement.

Confirmed cases rose to 8,077 from 6,650, a 21 per cent rise that followed a couple of days in which the rate of increase appeared to have tailed off somewhat.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered Britons on Monday to stay at home to halt the spread of coronavirus, imposing curbs on everyday life without precedent in peacetime.

All but essential shops must close immediately and people should no longer meet family or friends, Johnson said in a televised address to the nation, adding that people would risk fines if they did not comply.

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