As the UK death toll rose to 422 overnight, Matt Hancock, the health secretary, urged people to come forward to help deliver care for the most vulnerable.
He also asked the public for their "forbearance" in dealing with strict curbs to their freedom and urged them to stay at home except in limited circumstances.
Mr Hancock said: "I know how worried people are and while this is a great time of turbulence, it is a moment too that the country can come together in that national effort.
"As the next step in that effort, today we launch NHS volunteers. We are seeking a quarter of million volunteers - people in good health - to help the NHS, for shopping, in delivery of medicines and to support those who are shielded to protect their own health."