The mayor of London on Friday declared the COVID-19 crisis a “major incident” that poses a serious risk to life and will require agencies to go beyond “business-as-usual” operations.
Mayor Sadiq Khan said an estimated one in 30 Londoners has the virus. Fearing the National Health Service will be overrun, he said people must stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary for them to leave.
“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,” the mayor 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.”
The U.K. is contending with a fast-spreading variant of the virus and is fighting back with three different vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-Oxford University.
“This is a dark and difficult time for our city but there is light at end of the tunnel with the vaccine rollout. We are asking Londoners to come together one last time to stop the spread — lives really do depend on it,” the mayor said.
The major-incident designation will reconfigure the medical response and warn locals that hospitals may not be able to deliver their normal level of service.
Previous major incidents included the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 and terror attacks on Westminster Bridge and London Bridge in 2016.
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