The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has declared a “major incident” in the English capital “due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus (...) and the increase of Covid-19 cases in hospitals, which has left the NHS at risk of being overwhelmed,” according to a statement published on the Mayor’s office website on Friday.
The decision comes “as the number of Covid-19 cases in London has exceeded 1,000 per 100,000, putting immense pressure on an already stretched NHS,” the statement said.
“Between 30 December and 6 January, the number of patients in London hospitals grew by 27 per cent (from 5,524 to 7,034) and the number on mechanical ventilation grew by 42 per cent (from 640 to 908),” the statement read, adding that “over the last three days alone the NHS has announced 477 deaths in London hospitals following a positive test for Covid-19.”
“The situation in London is now critical with the spread of the virus out of control. The number of cases in London has increased rapidly with more than a third more patients being treated in our hospitals now compared to the peak of the pandemic last April,” Khan said.
According to his office, “the impact is also being felt right across the emergency services with hundreds of firefighters from London Fire Brigade once again assisting London Ambulance Service by volunteering to drive ambulances as the ambulance services faces one of the busiest times in its history.”
The London Ambulance Service is now taking up to 8,000 emergency calls a day now, compared to 5,500 on a typical busy day, the statement said.
In the UK, the declaration of a major incident enables local authorities to seek further support from the national government to address the situation.