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Britons reconvene on doorsteps to clap for health workers

Reuters | London | Updated: 03-04-2020 00:37 IST | Created: 03-04-2020 00:37 IST
Britons reconvene on doorsteps to clap for health workers

Britons stood on doorsteps and leaned out of windows on Thursday for a second national round of applause for doctors, nurses and all other essential workers battling the coronavirus outbreak that is forcing them to stay at home and avoid other people. For the second Thursday in a row, people across the United Kingdom banged on pots and pans, shouted, clapped and set off firecrackers to show their support for health and care professionals seen as the superheroes of the hour.

In some London streets, children banged on xylophones and shook maracas to say thank you, while fireworks could be seen and heard on the skyline. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has tested positive for the virus and is self-isolating in Downing Street, joined in the applause.

With the beloved but overstretched National Health Service (NHS) facing its toughest challenge since it was founded after World War Two, the applause provided a moment of unity and emotional release in the midst of anxiety and isolation. Mirroring similar initiatives in other countries from Italy to India, the event was widely promoted on social media networks under the tag #ClapForCarers and looks likely to become a weekly ritual for as long as the lockdown lasts.

The NHS, which provides free healthcare to everyone living in the United Kingdom, inspires a passion and loyalty in Britons that has been compared to a religion, but the chronically short-staffed service is also a perennial subject of concern. Tapping into the public's attachment to the service, the government has made the slogan "Protect The NHS" central to its messaging aimed at persuading people to stay at home to avoid spreading the virus.


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