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Nationwide silence expected in memory of key workers who have died in pandemic

Government workers will be asked to take part and Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said it is hoped others will participate across the UK.

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The nation is expected to fall silent in memory of key workers who have lost their lives in the coronavirus pandemic (Yui Mok/PA)

The nation is expected to fall silent in memory of key workers who have lost their lives in the coronavirus pandemic (Yui Mok/PA)

The nation is expected to fall silent in memory of key workers who have lost their lives in the coronavirus pandemic (Yui Mok/PA)

The nation is expected to fall silent in tribute to key workers who have died in the coronavirus pandemic.

Boris Johnson, who battled the illness himself, including a spell in intensive care, will be among those observing the minute’s silence on Tuesday at 11am.

Government workers will be asked to take part and the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said it is hoped others will participate “nationwide”.

Unison, the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal of College of Nursing launched a campaign last week for the nation to take a moment to honour frontline staff who have died during the Covid-19 crisis.

Between them, the organisations represent more than a million NHS and public service workers including porters, refuse collectors and care staff.

On Monday, the PM’s official spokesman said: “We will be supporting the minute’s silence.

“We will be asking everybody who works in the Government to take part and we would hope that others will take part nationwide as well.”

Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “I am very pleased the Prime Minister is going to be taking part in the silence tomorrow.

“This moment will bring together a sombre but grateful nation. Whether in nursing or driving buses, our heroes kept going to work when many had the luxury of staying at home. Nobody should go out to work and risk their life.

“This must not be the last time that sacrifice is recognised. The country and its leaders owes a tremendous debt to these key workers and the many more who are on shift again today.”

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “We’re pleased to see the Prime Minister and the Government are joining the many organisations that have pledged support for this important occasion. Boris Johnson has seen first-hand how NHS staff are going to remarkable lengths to keep us all safe.

“The least we can all do tomorrow is spare a moment to pay our respects and show our gratitude to all the key workers who have lost their lives.”

England’s top nurse and doctor have also backed the silence, saying they want everyone to pause together to remember those who have died.

Chief nursing officer for England Ruth May said: “Every death is a tragedy but we feel the loss of fellow health and care workers particularly keenly.

“I want people across the NHS and the whole country to come together and remember health and care workers who have lost their lives to this cruel virus.”

NHS England chief Professor Stephen Powis said: “This is an opportunity for us all to pay tribute to doctors, nurses, cleaners and many other NHS staff who have died in this pandemic.

“I hope the whole nation will fall silent in tribute and show how much their contribution is remembered and appreciated.”

Tuesday’s silence will coincide with International Workers’ Memorial Day.

The PA news agency has confirmed the deaths of more than 90 frontline NHS workers since March 25, and there have also been lives lost in other key sectors, including private social care and transport.

NHS England has said it is considering how to formally commemorate and celebrate the dedication of those who have died while caring for others, and will work with families, loved ones and staff to find “the most respectful and appropriate way to do so”.

PA