Confirmed COVID-19 cases exceed 8,000 on first day of UK lockdown
Photo taken on March 24, 2020 shows a general view of the Westminster Abbey after the British government placed further restrictions on movement in London, Britain. The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Britain reached 8,077 as of Tuesday morning, according to the lastest figure from the Department of Health and Social Care. (Photo by Tim Ireland/Xinhua)
LONDON, March 24 (Xinhua) -- The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Britain reached 8,077 as of Tuesday morning, according to the lastest figure from the Department of Health and Social Care.
A total of 90,436 people have been tested across Britain, of which 8,077 were confirmed positive, while 422 patients who contracted the novel coronavirus have died, said the department.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Tuesday in a press briefing that a temporary hospital will be set up in the ExCeL centre, an exhibition centre in east London, with a capacity to hold up to 4,000 patients.
Meanwhile, Britain is also looking for 250,000 volunteers to help National Health Service (NHS) employees with "shopping, delivery of medicines and to support those who are shielded," Hancock said.
Asked about Britain's call for retired medics to return, Hancock said more than 11,500 have stepped up, including 2,660 doctors and 6,147 nurses, adding that more than 18,000 medical students will also join the NHS workforce.
The latest figures came on the first day of "lockdown" in Britain as more stringent measures were taken to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared a "moment of national emergency" on Monday evening, bringing Britain largely into line with most big European nations.
Johnson announced that starting from Monday night, people in Britain will only be allowed to leave their homes for "very limited purposes," including shopping for basic necessities, for any medical need, for one form of exercise a day, and to travel to and from work when necessary.
Meanwhile, all shops selling non-essential goods, such as clothing and electronic stores, are ordered to close, and places like libraries, playgrounds, and outdoor gyms will also be closed.
All social events and even gatherings of more than two people in public, excluding people one lives with, are banned.
According to British authorities, the measures will last at least three weeks and could be renewed, or even toughened, depending on the spread of the disease.
Asked how social distancing rules would be enforced by police, Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs' Council, explained on Monday that police will warn rule-breakers before taking action.
He said it is "not turning into a position that everyone on the streets is immediately dealt with in an enforcement way."
Instead, officers will seek to "talk to people, explain the rules and, if people do not listen to that, then clearly we have to take action", he said.
Meanwhile, jails in England and Wales have been put on immediate lockdown with all visits cancelled, according to the union which represents prison officers.
British government expects another 5,000 ventilators to be made available in the coming weeks to help those suffering with severe coronavirus symptoms.
The prime minister's official spokesman said: "We have over 8,000 ventilators on the front line currently with 5,000 more expected to come online in the next few weeks...We have been working with private hospitals to secure extra capacity and we have also been working to deliver extra capacity from international manufacturers."