Khan declares “major incident” in London as NHS risks being overwhelmed

Sienna Rodgers

Sadiq Khan has declared a “major incident” in London today as the rapid rise in coronavirus cases across the capital and increased hospitalisation of Covid sufferers has left the NHS “at risk of being overwhelmed”.

The Labour mayor in London is asking Boris Johnson for more financial support for those who need to self-isolate and cannot work, for the closure of places of worship and for face masks to be worn routinely outside.

Writing to the Prime Minister, he has also asked for daily vaccination data, which the government has committed to providing from Monday. Johnson told the public yesterday that almost 1.5 million people have been immunised.

Khan told the BBC this afternoon: “There’s a real risk over the course of the next couple of weeks, unless the virus reduces and there are fewer people going to hospital, we could run out of beds.

“Across London, on average one out of 30 Londoners now has this virus. But in some parts of London, it’s one out of 20. The number of people now in hospital with Covid is 35% more than the peak in spring.”

The move comes after the Health Service Journal reported that, according to a leaked NHS England briefing, London hospitals are less than two weeks away from being overwhelmed by Covid even in a best case scenario.

The NHS in London is set to be short of nearly 2,000 general, acute and intensive care beds by January 19th, the briefing said – if the number of Covid patients grows at the lowest rate considered likely and plans to up capacity are successful.

The number of Covid-19 cases in London has exceeded 1,000 per 100,000, having grown by 27% between December 30th and January 6th. 477 deaths of people with Covid have been announced over the last three days in the capital.

The London Fire Brigade is again assisting the London Ambulance Service to drive ambulances in the pandemic. According to the mayor, since April firefighters have responded to 100,000 incidents whilst driving ambulances.

Announcing the ‘major incident’, the Labour mayor of London said:

“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.

“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.

“We are declaring a major incident because the threat this virus poses to our city is at crisis point. If we do not take immediate action now, our NHS could be overwhelmed and more people will die.

“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.”

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