London declares 'major incident' with hospitals at risk of Covid deluge

·2-min read

London mayor Sadiq Khan on Friday declared a major incident after warning that hospitals in the British capital could soon be overwhelmed by a surge in coronavirus infections linked to a new strain.

"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," Khan said in a statement.

He called for greater support from the government in the fight against Covid-19.

"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 National Health Service could be overwhelmed and more people will die."

An estimated one in 30 Londoners have the virus. The number of patients in London's hospitals has grown by 27 percent over the last week and the number on ventilators has increased by 42 percent.

Khan hopes the decision will put pressure on the prime minister, Boris Johnson, to take further measures to combat the spread.

Britain on Friday reported a record 1,325 deaths over a 24 period from people testing positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths to 79,833.

Greater financial support

Khan has written to Johnson asking for greater financial support for Londoners who need to self-isolate, daily vaccination data, the closure of places of worship and for face masks to be worn routinely outside of the home.

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

"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," he added.

He also urged Londoners to play their part by sticking more closely to the rules.

"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."

A major incident is defined as being "beyond the scope of business-as-usual operations, and is likely to involve serious harm, damage, disruption or risk to human life or welfare, essential services, the environment or national security".

(With AFP)