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UK: Retired police officers asked to come back to work

London death toll makes up 40% of whole country, with figures steadily rising, so Met also asks those near retirement to stay

Ahmet Gürhan Kartal   | 27.03.2020
UK: Retired police officers asked to come back to work

LONDON

London’s Metropolitan Police have asked retired officers to return to work to help handle the coronavirus crisis, which may reach unprecedented levels in the British capital, the hotbed of the most of the U.K. cases. 

"Demands on us will grow and vary over the coming weeks but I want people to know and see the Met is here for them," Commissioner Cressida Dick said.

She also asked officers nearing retirement to consider staying on.

The request came after half a million British people volunteered to help the country’s national healthcare and social services.

Dick said: "Police officers overwhelmingly join 'the job' to help people and to make a difference, and that desire will be as strong today as it was the very first day they joined.

"I am hopeful that these exceptionally experienced and knowledgeable former colleagues choose to come and be part of our team and support London at this extraordinary time."

London has been under lockdown with social distancing measures in place for a week.

The number of deaths across the U.K. is 578, with more than 100 new deaths in past 24 hours, according to official figures. There are more than 9,529 cases of coronavirus cases in the U.K., which includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

London’s anxious wait

The number of confirmed cases in London alone is 3,919, with nearly 40% of all U.K. cases emerging in the city. As of Friday morning, 184 patients lost their lives in London.

Preparations for the peak of the crisis, which is predicted to hit the U.K. within the next two weeks, continue, with around 10 sites being converted into large makeshift hospitals in the country.

London’s massive ExCel Centre in Docklands is becoming the NHS Nightingale Hospital with a capacity of 4,000 beds and two big morgues, with more and more ambulances seen on the streets of the city.

The Ministry of Defence said they have 20,000 troops ready to assist in efforts against the COVID-19 outbreak, with around 250 soldiers already taking part in hospital logistics.

Local councils across the country have also been asked by the government to house all rough sleepers and homeless people by the end of the weekend.

20,000 or fewer deaths 'good outcome'

Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific advisor to the government, painted a grim picture last week, describing 20,000 or fewer deaths from coronavirus as a "good outcome".

He said that even though deaths on this scale would be "horrible" and "enormous," it was still a hopeful scenario for government planners.

Speaking to parliament's Health Select Committee, Vallance said he hoped new measures announced by the government, including an end to all "non-essential social contact" and self-isolating the vulnerable, would reduce the death toll from possibly hundreds of thousands.

A lockdown announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson saw fewer people on the streets, but he remains under fire for responding slowly at first to the crisis. Earlier in the pandemic, Johnson championed a tactic based on "herd immunity," before learning that would likely take many months and result in hundreds of thousands of deaths.

The government also faces criticism for not fully stopping work many construction sites.

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