Use video calls on Mother's Day, says UK PM Johnson as COVID-19 accelerates

Aditi Khanna

London, Mar 22 (PTI) Prime Minister Boris Johnson made an impassioned plea for Mother's Day in the UK on Sunday, calling on people to strictly follow social distancing rules as the spread of the deadly coronavirus accelerates in the country with the death toll rising to 233.

In a letter to the nation, the British Prime Minister said people should use video calls to connect with their mothers on what is celebrated as Mothering Sunday in Britain, as the numbers from the pandemic are very 'stark' and threaten to overwhelm the country's state-funded National Health Service (NHS).

'I know that everyone's strongest instinct is to go and see their mother in person, to have a meal together, to show them how much you love them. But I am afraid that this Mothering Sunday, the single best present that we can give — we who owe our mothers so much — is to spare them the risk of catching a very dangerous disease,' reads his letter.

'The sad news is that means staying away. This time the best thing is to ring her, video call her, Skype her, but to avoid any unnecessary physical contact or proximity,' he said.

He stressed that the reason for remote wishes was because all the statistics showed that it was the elderly and medically vulnerable who were much more likely to die from COVID-19.

'We cannot disguise or sugar-coat the threat,' he said, adding that the numbers are 'accelerating”.

In yet another warning that the worst may be yet to come, Johnson notes that the UK may only be two or three weeks behind Italy, the region worst hit by the pandemic with nearly 800 coronavirus deaths on Saturday alone and a total death toll at 4,825 – the highest in the world.

'The Italians have a superb healthcare system. And yet their doctors and nurses have been completely overwhelmed by the demand,' Johnson said.

'The Italian death toll is already in the thousands and climbing. Unless we act together, unless we make the heroic and collective national effort to slow the spread — then it is all too likely that our own NHS will be similarly overwhelmed,' he said.

The prime minister acknowledged that the government's shutdown measures were putting an enormous strain on the country, as the disease forces people apart physically.

But his central message was for the British public was that the more effectively they follow the medical advice, the faster the country can bounce back to health, both medically and economically.

'But this epidemic is also the crucible in which we are already forging new bonds of togetherness and altruism and sharing. This country will be changed by coronavirus, but there is every reason to think we will come through it stronger and better than ever before,' he concluded, on an optimistic note. PTI AK MRJ MRJ