March 20, 2020 / 6:04 PM / 20 days ago

Listen to advice on coronavirus, Prince William tells Britons

LONDON, March 20 (Reuters) - Britain’s Prince William called on the public to heed government advice on how to stop the spread of coronavirus on Friday as he hailed health workers battling the outbreak.

Everyone had a part to play, said William, second-in-line to the throne, after a visit with his wife Kate to a call centre in Croydon, south London, where ambulance staff handle non-emergency “111” calls to the National Health Service (NHS).

“The last few weeks, and more recent days, have been understandably concerning with the continuing spread of coronavirus,” said the prince, 37, who added he wanted to pass on the thanks of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, and his father, Prince Charles.

“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.”

Britain’s health service has been coming under pressure to deal with the outbreak.

One London hospital declared a “critical incident” on Friday due to shortage of intensive care beds, according to media reports, and staff at the Croydon centre have been taking at least five times as many calls as normal.

However, there has been criticism of some Britons who have ignored government messages of avoiding social gatherings.

“All of us have a part to play if we’re going to protect the most vulnerable,” William said. “That means acting on the latest expert advice, staying home if we or those we live with have symptoms, and avoiding non-essential contact to help reduce the spread of the virus.”

On Thursday, the 93-year-old queen said the royal family would play its part in dealing dealt with the pandemic.

“Many of us will need to find new ways of staying in touch with each other and making sure that loved ones are safe. I am certain we are up to that challenge,” she said in a message to the nation.

“You can be assured that my family and I stand ready to play our part.” (Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)

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