City hall said rising infection rates “put immense pressure on an already strained NHS”, with the number of people on mechanical ventilators up 42% – from 640 to 908 – in the week to January 6 .
There are 7,034 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 – 35% more than the first peak of the pandemic in April.
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Strong pressure has also spread to other emergency services.
The London Ambulance Service currently takes up to 8,000 emergency calls per day, compared to 5,500 on a busy day.
Meanwhile, the UK’s reproduction rate or ‘R’ – the average number of people a person with coronavirus transmits it to – has increased from 1.1 to 1.3 to 1.0 to 1.4 .
It is based on data up to January 4, but the government has warned that the latest rate “cannot reflect the impact of recent policy changes” like the lockdown in England.
Mr. Khan announced that he was “declaring a major incident because the threat this virus poses to our city is in crisis.”
He warned: ‘If we don’t act immediately now, our NHS could be overwhelmed and more people will die.
“Londoners continue to make enormous sacrifices and I implore them today to please stay home unless it is absolutely necessary for you to leave.
“Stay home to protect yourself, your family, friends and other Londoners and to protect our NHS. ”
More than 800 patients a day are admitted to London hospitals with COVID-19, NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens warned during a Downing Street briefing on Thursday.
“It’s the equivalent of a new St Thomas hospital, full of COVID patients every day,” he says.
Analysis: what a “major incident” is and what will happen next
By Tom Rayner, political correspondent
A major incident is a specific term, defined by the Civil Contingencies Act as an event which presents “a serious threat to the health of the community” or “causes such a number or type of casualties as to require attention. implementation of special provisions ”.
The decision to declare a major incident reflects the extreme pressure on the NHS and emergency responders due to the rapid spread of the virus, but also the fact that staff themselves are sick or being forced to self-isolate .
The London Strategic Coordination Group, chaired by Sadiq Khan, will now step up its multi-agency response involving hospitals, general practitioners, local councils and emergency services.
This will involve redeploying resources to areas that are under stress, such as using firefighters to drive ambulances.
It also means that there may be a demand for additional resources and assistance from the national government.
Sussex and Surrey also reported major incidents yesterday, following Thames Valley four days ago, and Essex last week.
All of these areas are now on an emergency basis due to concerns that their services may not function normally.