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 (Photo: iStock).

Over 170,000 people have signed up to help NHS tackle the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak just hours after a request for a quarter of a million volunteers.

“At times of crisis people come together,” Stephen Powis, the national medical director of NHS England, told BBC TV. “This is a health emergency and we can all play a role.”

Britain had called for 250,000 volunteers to deliver food and medicines, provide transport for patients and supplies, and to telephone those who are becoming lonely because of self isolation.

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.

The death toll from coronavirus in the UK jumped on Tuesday by 87 to a total of 422 – the biggest daily increase since the crisis began.

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