London mayor declares ‘major incident’ as COVID ‘out of control’

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, on Friday declared a “major incident” in the British capital due to rising coronavirus cases threatening to overwhelm hospitals.

City Hall said growing infection rates are “putting immense pressure” on an already stretched National Health Service, with the number of people on mechanical ventilators up by 42 per cent, from 640 to 908 in the week up to January 6.

And, the pandemic was seen as “out of control” as there are 7,034 people currently in hospital with COVID-19 in London — 35 per cent higher compared to the first peak of the pandemic in March-April 2020.

Khan announced he is “declaring a major incident because the threat this virus poses to our city is at crisis point” and has written to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the alert.

“The situation in London is now critical with the spread of the virus out of control,” said Khan.

“If we do not take immediate action now, our NHS could be overwhelmed and more people will die,” he said.

“Londoners continue to make huge sacrifices and I am today imploring them to please stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary for you to leave. Stay at home to protect yourself, your family, friends and other Londoners and to protect our NHS,” he added.

Major incidents have previously been called for the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 and the terrorist attacks in the UK capital. A major incident is defined as an event or situation with a range of serious consequences which requires special arrangements to be implemented by one or more emergency responder agency.

It comes as the London Ambulance Service is currently taking up to 8,000 emergency calls a day, compared to 5,500 on a typical busy day. It comes after the London Fire Brigade said more than 100 firefighters had been drafted in to drive ambulances to help cope with the demand.

Other surrounding areas of London, including Sussex and Surrey, have also declared similar alerts.

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