Priti Patel issues letter of thanks to UK emergency services

Aditi Khanna

London, Mar 22 (PTI) Priti Patel, the Indian-origin home secretary of the UK, on Sunday issued an open letter of gratitude to the country’s emergency services who are on the frontline of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed more than 200 lives in the country.

The letter addressed to the UK’s “incredible” emergency services, police officers and firefighters notes that the country is dealing with its greatest challenge since World War II.

“I know that you – our frontline police officers and firefighters – will be the glue holding us all together over the coming weeks and months. It is an honour to be associated with each and every one of you,” says the minister, who is in charge of the essential services at the UK Home Office.

The letter, signed on behalf of the Home Office, the government and the people of the United Kingdom, pledges that as the Home Secretary she would do “everything possible” to ensure they have the resources and powers required to keep communities safe.

“Our country is going to be tested. But I know that, if we all emulate your selflessness, compassion and commitment, there is nothing that we cannot overcome,” she said.

The letter comes as UK authorities are given extra powers to enforce strict social distancing rules after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered all social venues to shut their doors from Friday.

“We have closed the schools, the pubs, the bars, the restaurants, the gyms, and we are asking people to stay and work at home if they possibly can… All of this is putting our country, and our society, under enormous strain,” he noted in his own open letter to the nation.

“Yes, this disease is forcing us apart — at least physically. But this epidemic is also the crucible in which we are already forging new bonds of togetherness and altruism and sharing,” he said.

The number of people who have died in the UK with coronavirus rose to 233 on Saturday, as cases topped 5,000. Johnson has warned that the UK may be just weeks away from the situation in Italy – the world’s worst hit country from the pandemic with a death toll of 4,825 – as the number of cases accelerate across Britain. PTI AK NSA