The Mayor of London has declared a major incident across the city, as Covid cases and infected patients in hospitals hit “critical” levels.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently estimated that as many as one in 30 people living in London currently have coronavirus.
The emergency declaration has been made to help fast track national help for the NHS, with beds in London hospitals nearly running out.
‘Out of control’
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said the virus is “out of control” in the city, and that residents are under orders to obey the lockdown rules and not mix over the weekend.
The city has seen a dramatic rise in cases since early December, with the number of infected cases in the over 60s age range quadrupling.
What is a major incident?
A major incident is an emergency situation that requires special arrangements that will be implemented by one or all of the emergency services, the NHS or the local authority.
Major incidents have been called in the capital before, for the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, and the terror attacks at Westminster Bridge and London Bridge.
Khan confirmed that there are currently more than 7,000 people in hospital with Covid-19, a 35 per cent increase compared to the peak of the pandemic last April. The Mayor said that the London Ambulance Service is taking up to 8,000 emergency calls a day, compared to the typical 5,500 a day.
Doctors in the city have warned that critical care nurses are close to burn out, and, because of resources being stretched thin, there was a real risk of patients suffering harm.
Khan’s announcement comes after Sussex and Surrey counties declared similar major incidents on Thursday 7 January.
‘Our city is at crisis point’
Khan said: “Our heroic doctors, nurses and NHS staff are doing an amazing job, but with cases rising so rapidly, our hospitals are at risk of being overwhelmed. The stark reality is that we will run out of beds for patients in the next couple of weeks unless the spread of the virus slows down drastically.