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Britons gathered outside their homes to take part in the second Clap for Heroes of the third national lockdown tonight as NHS staff protested Boris Johnson's handling of the pandemic outside Downing Street.
Residents in Saltburn, Yorkshire, and Surrey wore fairy lights, banged pans and decorated their balconies with flowers spelling 'NHS' during the second weekly event, which began during the March shutdown.
At the beginning of the pandemic, people took to their doorsteps, windows and balconies each Thursday at 8pm for 10 weeks to celebrate NHS staff and key workers with a round of applause.
The new campaign, which has been renamed Clap for Heroes, calls on people across the UK to applaud in appreciation of those helping in the fight against Covid and has been expanded to include 'every hero who has played their part through the pandemic'.
These include delivery drivers, postal workers, teachers, home-schoolers, neighbours, scientists, volunteers, all those who wear masks when out and those who have stayed at home and socially-distanced.
Last week the founder of the original campaign, Annemarie Plas, 37, distanced herself from the event after NHS workers urged the public to avoid taking part and instead respect the lockdown.
Dorrie Cunningham, aged eight, claps with giant hands in Bookham, Surrey © Provided by Daily Mail
It comes as new coronavirus cases fell by 7.5 per cent from last week and figures showed infections in every age group except the over-80s.
A further 48,682 cases were reported today, bringing the country's overall pandemic total to 3,292,014 - up 1,157 on yesterday but crucially down 3,936 from last Thursday's data. The announcement of today's daily death figures has been delayed.
At Downing Street, a number of NHS staff protested the Government's handling of the much-hated Covid pandemic.
Wearing PPE and carrying a sign which read 'You failed the public, you failed the NHS, Boris must go', the five campaigners arrived at 8pm, the scheduled start time of the Clap For Heroes.
Nobody was heard clapping along Whitehall in the heart of Westminster as one nurse told reporters: 'The situation in hospitals is so severe, we are stretched across all ICUs.'
ICU nurse Ameera Sheikh told reporters: 'It's been very difficult, very challenging.
NHS staff from London hospitals during a socially distanced protest outside Downing Street © Provided by Daily Mail
'We're stressed out and very anxious, there's a lot of PTSD amongst staff, staff are going off sick ... leaving nurses very short, which increases the risk of patients deteriorating and ultimately patients dying.
'This is the Government's fault, they need to take responsibility, they need to provide us with better pay and better working conditions.'
Ms Sheikh went on: 'It's 8pm, it's Thursday, it's Clap for Carers, whilst we appreciate the claps that the public are doing and some of them are staying at home, we do not appreciate our Government clapping for us because essentially they are the reason why we are in this position.
'They've not planned at all and they've had months to plan ahead and they've left us in such a terrible position.'
Around five minutes after the protesting staff gathered, several police officers arrived at the gates of Downing Street.
The campaigners were reminded of the national lockdown measures and the group then dispersed.Read more