The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said the situation was now critical amid the growing number of patients admitted with COVID-19. Khan made the emergency declaration to speed up national aid to the National Health Service (NHS), which he said was on the verge of running out of beds.
“I have declared a major incident in London because the threat this virus poses to our city is in crisis,” he tweeted. “One in 30 Londoners now has COVID-19. If we don’t act immediately our NHS could be overwhelmed and more people will die.
The mayor said the virus was ‘out of control’ in the capital and ordered Londoners to play by the rules and not mix inside over the weekend. The number of patients in London hospitals rose 27%, from 5,524 to 7,034 between December 30 and January 6, according to the latest data.
The number of people on mechanical ventilators also increased by 42%, from 640 to 908, in the week of January 6.
In the past three days alone, the NHS has announced 477 deaths in London hospitals following a positive COVID-19 test. The London ambulance service said it now takes up to 8,000 emergency calls a day, up from 5,500 on a busy day.
Speaking at a press conference in Downing Street, NHS England Director Sir Simon Stevens admitted there was a “material risk” that hospitals in London would be overwhelmed in the next 21 days.
Khan thinks it could happen sooner. In a statement, he said: ‘Our heroic doctors, nurses and NHS staff are doing an incredible job, but with such a rapid increase in cases our hospitals are in danger of being overwhelmed.
“The harsh reality is that we are going to run out of patient beds in the next few weeks unless the spread of the virus slows significantly. ”
One of England’s largest hospital trusts, Bart’s NHS Trust – which operates five hospitals in the City of London and east London – revealed it had 830 patients with Covid-19 on January 5, against a first peak of 606.
The total number of people who have died after testing positive for the virus in London is now 9,123.
Meanwhile, official figures show that the estimated number of ‘Rs’ in the UK has dropped from 1.0 to 1.4, down from 1.1 to 1.3 previously.
The COVID R number – or reproduction number – indicates the rate at which COVID-19 is spreading.
This means that for every 10 people with COVID-19, they pass it on to 10 to 14 other people, which means the virus continues to grow.
Major incidents have already been declared during the London terrorist attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017. This allows special arrangements to be made by one or more emergency response agencies.