March 20, 2020 / 6:19 PM / in 11 days

Listen to advice on coronavirus, Prince William tells Britons

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

Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, accompanied by the Chief Executive of the London Ambulance Service, Garrett Emmerson talk with staff during a visit to the London Ambulance Service 111 control room in Croydon, Britain March 19, 2020. Kensington Palace/Handout via REUTERS

Everyone had a part to play, said William, second-in-line to the throne, after a visit on Thursday 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,” he said in remarks released on Friday.

Britain’s health service has been coming under pressure to deal with the outbreak, the biggest public health crisis since the 1918 influenza pandemic, 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. On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered pubs, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and gyms to close to contain the spread.

“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 and Estelle Shirbon

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