Coronavirus news: 20,000 retired NHS staff to return to fight outbreak as government warns partial lockdown could last six months

Kate Ng, Andy Gregory
The prime minister told the nation it would enter into lockdown via a televised speech on 23 March: AFP

The UK could remain on partial lockdown for six months, deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries has said, warning of a second peak if such measures are ended too quickly.

Boris Johnson has written a letter to every household in the UK to urge the public to stay at home during the coronavirus “national emergency”, raising the possibility of even stricter lockdown measures being introduced.

The prime minister also announced that 20,000 retired NHS staff have volunteered to return to the health service, as it prepares for its most challenging week ever with the number of Covid-19 patients set to increase significantly.

Makeshift wards, made up of converted old clinic spaces, offices and surgical theatres holding 33,000 extra beds, give hope of maximising capacity to help patients needing life-saving treatment.

The number of UK deaths reached 1,228 on Sunday, after 29 more deaths were recorded. It is the second largest day-on-day rise in the number of deaths reported since the outbreak began.

In the US, the number of fatalities doubled in two days to surpass 2,000. There are now more than 660,000 coronavirus cases across the globe, and more than 30,000 people have died.

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