BORIS Johnson has warned the NHS faces being OVERWHELMED by coronavirus just like the swamped health service has been in Italy.
He fears the system could start to fall apart within just two weeks unless Brits heed lockdown advice aimed at stopping the spread of the killer pandemic.
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Doctors have already warned a "tsunami" of severely ill patients is about to swamp them as the numbers of people struck down in the UK tops 5,000.
Now in a letter to the nation, the Prime Minister warns the country needs make a "heroic and collective national effort."
He wrote: "The numbers are very stark, and they are accelerating. We are only a matter of weeks – two or three – behind Italy.
"The Italians have a superb healthcare system. And yet their doctors and nurses have been completely overwhelmed by the demand.
"The Italian death toll is already in the thousands and climbing.
"Unless we act together, unless we make the heroic and collective national effort to slow the spread – then it is all too likely that our own NHS will be similarly overwhelmed.
"That is why this country has taken the steps that it has, in imposing restrictions never seen before either in peace or war."
There had been 55 fatalities on March 16 when the PM first addressed the nation live from Number 10 Downing Street.
Coronavirus cases for the UK have now soared to 5,018 with 233 people losing their lives, according to the latest Department of Health figures.
The number of cases worryingly rocketed by 1,035 in just 24 hours.
Boris's warning about Italy came as it was revealed troops are now being used to transport coffins in the hard-hit country after the virus claimed the lives of 793 people in a single day.
The total number of dead in the hardest-hit country in the world soared to 4,825 on Saturday – the worst day for fatalities since the crisis began.
Soldiers were drafted in to ferry bodies from deluged hospitals to cemeteries already struggling to cope with the numbers dying.
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