The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited an NHS centre in south London to show their support and highlight its vital and tireless work to manage the coronavirus pandemic.
Prince William thanked the health service and its emergency staff for "pulling together for the common good" and representing "the very best of our country and society".
He also urged the public "to protect the most vulnerable" by avoiding non-essential social interactions to prevent spreading the virus.
After their engagement at the centre in Croydon, which took place on Thursday, March 19) the duke made the statement (via The Telegraph): "The last few weeks, and more recent days have been understandably concerning with the continuing spread of coronavirus.
"But it’s at times like this when we realise just how much the NHS represents the very best of our country and society – people from all backgrounds and walks of life with different experiences and skills, pulling together for the common good.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the London Ambulance Centre in Croydon to meet staff who have been taking NHS 111 calls from the public, and thank them for the vital work they are doing.— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) March 20, 2020
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"Not only are NHS staff and emergency workers responding to the needs of the public, they – like the rest of us – are concerned about their families, friends and loved ones. They need our support as much as we need theirs."
While inside, the royal couple followed health guidelines by distancing themselves from people they met, avoiding handshakes and using hand sanitiser.
When supervisor Courtney Campbell, 32, instinctively reached out to shake their hands, William said: "Don't shake hands!"
He posed for a photo, adding: "We can do a photograph if we are not within a metre of each other."
Kate - wearing a pink trouser suit from M&S - told members of staff: "It's amazing. You're doing such a great job bringing everyone together and providing that, the support system for the whole public."
The duke and duchess were told that the number of 111 calls to the centre has almost quadrupled since the outbreak began, from around 7,000 to 25,000 a day across London alone. They were also told its 999 service had just had the busiest three days in its history, with calls nearly doubling from 4,500 a day to 8,000.
London Ambulance Service chief executive, Garrett Emmerson said that the public should only call 999 if they have "a very serious, potentially life-threatening emergency". "Call 111 if you cannot get the advice you need from NHS online."
When the royal couple left, William, who worked in the emergency services as a pilot for East Anglian Air Ambulance, told staff members: "Well done on you guys. It's lovely to see you."
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