Prince William and Kate Middleton's three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, take part in the 'Clap for Carers' campaign. Photo: Instagram

The Royal Family and the Prime Minister joined the rest of the nation taking part in a “Clap for Carers” tribute March 25, saluting hard-pressed National Health Service workers and volunteers dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. 

Britons across the United Kingdom came to their front doors, balconies and windows at 8pm in emotional unison to clap and applaud. Prince William, the presumptive future king, and his wife the Duchess of Cambridge posted a video of their children George, Charlotte and Louis joining the applause.

The next day the Prime Minister tested positive for the coronavirus, but plans to continue to manage the government while in isolation at his 10 Downing Street offices.

Britain remains under national lockdown with 11,568 confirmed Covid-19 cases at last count, and the number of cases continues to rise exponentially. With 568 deaths from the virus recorded to date, or 9 per million of population, Britain’s fatality rate is much lower than that of Spain (104 per million) or Italy (136 per million, but higher than that of Germany (3 per million) or China (2 per million).

While the country’s National Health Service is straining to cope with the influx of new patients, Britons nonetheless took the opportunity to demonstrate the type of of national unity that recalled the wartime spirit of the 1940s.

Now, as then, the monarchy has been the rallying point for British determination. Queen Elizabeth, at 93 is now in isolation. She put out an Instagram message, saying she was “enormously thankful” to the people on the frontline of the UK’s response to the virus and said the UK was grateful “for the expertise and commitment of our scientists, medical practitioners and emergency and public services”. Prince Charles, her son and heir to the throne has tested positive for the coronavirus.

As Japan dismantles the Olympic rings for at least one year,  Great Britain is making ‘volunteerism’ its new national sport.  The British government announced a call to action from Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, seeking 250,000 healthy and non-symptomatic people, to donate their time to become a “support army” to reduce pressure on the NHS and its staff who are struggling to assist the 1.5 million vulnerable Britons who are self-isolating or in care.

The request was made for 250,000, over 18 and healthy people, to offer time and resources to help deliver shopping, help transport patients to and from hospital, help isolated individuals and transport medicines and necessary equipment to NHS facilities.  However, more than 500,000 volunteers signed up in just over 24 hours to help the NHS and the numbers are rising.

Sir Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England, said: “Times like this show just how generous the British people are and how much they value our health service – we are blown away by this response and the kindness of our country.” With a national mantra to “stay home – protect the NHS and save lives”, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson thanked the people, stating: “That is already in one day as many volunteers as the population of Coventry.” 

The task force will operate using the GoodSAMResponder app, and once registered, volunteers can login-in, switch the app to “on duty” and then receive live and local volunteer tasks. 

Health professionals and social care staff will be able to request help for at-risk patients via a call center run by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), who will match people who need help with nearby volunteers.

In a similar vein, British technology company Dyson, responded to the prime minister’s call for help regarding the NHS’s short supply of ventilators.  In just 10 days, Dyson developed a new ventilator design, called the CoVent, which can be manufactured quickly and efficiently in volume.  According to Dyson, CoVent  has been specifically designed to address the NHS’ demand and medical needs of Covid-19 patients. 

A spokesperson for the company told CNN that 10,000 units will be ready by early April. “The core challenge was how to design and deliver a new, sophisticated medical product in volume and in an extremely short space of time,” Dyson wrote. “The race is now on to get it into production.”  In addition to the 10,000 units ordered by the NHS, Dyson intends to donate an additional 5,000 ventilators.