A ‘major incident’ has been declared in London as hospitals face being overwhelmed by the continued spread of Covid-19.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who formally chairs the London Resilience Forum, made the decision to declare a major incident following discussions with NHS London, local authorities and Public Health England.
A major incident can be declared when a situation is deemed “beyond the scope of business as usual” and can be due to “serious harm, damage, disruption or risk to human life”.
Sadiq Khan 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.”
The latest figures paint a shocking picture, with one in 30 Londoners believed to be infected with Covid-19 and there have been 477 Covid-related deaths in London hospitals in the last three days alone.
Londoners are once again being urged to stay at home and not to call an ambulance unless it is an emergency, with London Ambulance Service taking up to 8,000 emergency calls a day.
Metropolitan Police Depute Assitant Commissioner Matt Twist said, “The announcement that London has declared a major incident in the battle against Coronavirus is a stark reminder of the critical point we are at. Our health service colleagues are fighting this virus every day on the frontline, but the case rate continues to increase and the number of people affected in London is alarming. Now more than ever is the moment for people to stick to the rules, and stay at home
“There can be no doubt that right now we find ourselves at a serious and dangerous crossroads for London; everyone must look at this news and understand that our health service is nearing breaking point. I know Londoners will be shocked that officers are still dealing with a small selfish minority who think the rules don’t apply to them by holding house parties, large warehouse raves or other gatherings. These are creating breeding grounds for the much more transmissible variant.
“These rule breakers cannot continue to feign ignorance of the risk that this virus poses or listen to the false information and lies that some promote downplaying the dangers. Every time the virus spreads it increases the risk of someone needlessly losing their life.
“Earlier this week the Met issued refreshed instructions to officers to issue fines more quickly to anyone committing obvious, wilful and serious breaches. That is happening and it will continue to happen.
Major incidents have previously been declared in the capital for the Grenfell Tower fire, the Croydon tram crash, and terror attacks at Westminster Bridge.
Joe Talora - Local Democracy Reporter
January 8, 2021