A major incident has been declared in London as hospitals face being overwhelmed by the continued spread of Covid-19.
Sadiq Khan, who as mayor of London 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”.
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.”
One in 30 Londoners are 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.
Greenwich Council leader Danny Thorpe said that nearly one in three people tested in the borough last week had Covid-19.
“Our health and social care staff are doing incredible work, and we are refocusing all our efforts on protecting our communities,” he said. “But if things continue as they are, our local services will not be able to cope. It could mean patients on trolleys in corridors not receiving the treatment they need. It could mean your loved ones dying. We urgently need to get the infection rate down. That means staying at home unless absolutely necessary.
“Remember, one in three people with coronavirus don’t show symptoms, but for many people the virus is deadly. If you see your family and friends you could put their, and your own, life at risk. ”
Major incidents have previously been declared in the capital for the Grenfell Tower fire, the Croydon tram crash, and terror attacks at Westminster Bridge.
- Local info: Greenwich | Lewisham | Bexley
- Got symptoms? Book a test now or call 119
- Not got symptoms? Book a fast test in Greenwich (Greenwich, Eltham, Charlton; open to all), Lewisham (Catford – critical workers only), Bexley (Bexleyheath – open to all)
- NHS advice | Stay at home | Wash your hands more often
- Official figures on virus spread
Joe Talora is the Local Democracy Reporter for the Greater London Authority. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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