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London Mayor Sadiq Khan PHOTO: GLA

Sadiq Khan declares major incident amid calls to “stay home”

A RANGE OF organisations are joining forces to urge Londoners to recognise the severity of the Covid crisis in London and to observe the letter and spirit of the lockdown.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has declared “a major incident” in the capital, after consulting councils, Public Health England and the emergency services. The declaration came as emergency services grew increasingly busy. The London Ambulance Service would usually expect to receive up to 5,500 calls on a busy day, but it is now receiving around 8,000 calls a day. Firefighters have been seconded from the London Fire Brigade to help out by driving ambulances.

Explaining why he had declared a major incident, Sadiq Khan said, “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.” He went on to urge Londoners to 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.”

Georgia Gould, Chair of London Councils, expressed her support for Sadiq Khan’s decision and echoed his call for Londoners to stay home, saying, “One in 30 Londoners now has Covid.  This is why public services across London are urging all Londoners to please stay at home except for absolutely essential shopping and exercise. […] Councils are here to support anyone struggling to access food or medicine.”

“Stay home” is also the message from Public Health England (PHE). London Regional Director Professor Kevin Fenton responded to the news that London Mayor Sadiq Khan had declared a major incident declared in London, saying, “This is the biggest threat our city has faced in this pandemic to date. The emergence of the new variant means we are setting record case rates at almost double the national average, with at least 1 in 30 people now thought to be carrying the virus.

“Our NHS services are under immense pressure and currently another 800 people are being admitted to our hospitals every day. We know this will sadly lead to large numbers of deaths so strong and immediate action is needed. In order to ease the burden on our hospitals, we must first stop the spread. That means we have to stay at home. Cut your contacts, reduce your movements, do as little as possible. “A lot has been asked of Londoners over the past 12 months but your decisions and actions right now have never been more important.”

At the same time, PHE revealed that an average of 1,035 cases of Covid per 100,000 people had been diagnosed each day in London over the last seven days. The comparable national figure is 612 diagnoses per 100,000 people.  Over 800 people were admitted to hospital in London every day on January 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

The London Mayor released further figures indicating that the number of patients in London hospitals grew from 5,524 to 7,034 between 30th December and 6th January – that’s a 27% increase.  The 7,034 patients now in hospital is a 35% increase on the number in hospital at the previous peak of the pandemic in April 2020.

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