Kate and William visit UK 111 call centre staff amid coronavirus outbreak

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have praised the selfless dedication of frontline NHS staff after witnessing first hand how busy they are dealing with the virus crisis.

William also urged the public to heed expert advice on social isolation as he described the health service and its workers as the “very best of our country and society”.

He spoke after the couple visited an NHS 111 call centre in Croydon, south London, the first engagement the royal family has publicly undertaken out and about in connection with the pandemic.

The unannounced visit took place on Thursday, but was kept secret so as to not put any additional pressure on the centre, avoid crowds gathering and not clash with the Queen’s statement to the nation in which she urged the country to “work as one”.

Afterwards, William said: “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.

“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.

“That is why Catherine and I were proud to visit staff working at NHS 111, to pass on our personal thanks, along with those of my grandmother and father, to staff working around the clock to provide care and advice to those that need it most. It was also brilliant to see the great online tools for those with mild symptoms or worries.”