UK ARMY OF VOLUNTEERS
In late March, the United Kingdom imposed a nationwide lockdown in order to stem the spread of COVID-19. This included guidance that the country’s 1.5 million seniors over the age of 70 remain home for 12 weeks with little to no social contact. The government called for 250,000 volunteers to care for this contingent of homebound older people who are statistically most vulnerable to COVID-19. The New York Times reports that 750,000 people signed up within a week of the request – triple the target. The government paused the application process because it could not keep up with the inflow of good samaritans. The volunteers will primarily deliver food and medicine to the elderly and vulnerable.
The UK confirmed its first cases of COVID-19 on January 31. In mid-March, the UK’s Chief Scientific Advisor seemed to indicate that the government would adopt a “herd immunity” strategy. That is, its response to the outbreak would be to allow a large proportion of the population – mostly young and healthy people – to incur the infection. These people would have a very high likelihood of recovering and developing immunity to the disease, therefore stemming a winter resurgence. The strategy created an uproar not only in Britain, but around the world. Although some argue that “herd immunity” was never the official goal, the government has now implemented strict containment measures similar to many other countries.
To date, Britain has reported over 55,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 6,000 deaths. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is currently in intensive care, nearly two weeks after testing positive for the disease. On March 25, it was announced that Prince Charles, the Queen’s son, tested positive. He has since recovered and emerged from self-isolation.