"Major incident" declared as London Covid-19 cases surge
London’s mayor has declared a “major incident” today, saying the number of Covid-19 cases is threatening to overwhelm the capital’s hospitals.
Sadiq Khan said he took the decision following discussions with leaders from NHS London, local authorities, Public Health England and the emergency services.
It comes as the number of Covid patients in hospitals is reported at 35% higher than during April’s peak.
Overall, the number of Covid-19 cases in London has exceeded 1,000 per 100,000, putting immense pressure on an already stretched NHS.
Between 30 December and 6 January, the number of patients in London hospitals grew by 27 per cent (from 5,524 to 7,034) and the number on mechanical ventilation grew by 42 per cent (from 640 to 908).
Over the last three days alone the NHS has announced 477 deaths in London hospitals following a positive test for Covid-19.
The London Ambulance Service is now taking up to 8,000 emergency calls a day now, compared to 5,500 on a typical busy day.
Cllr Joseph Ejiofor, Leader of Haringey Council, said:
“This virus is killing people – we are in a desperate situation, where the Mayor of London has now declared a major incident. As a nation, we must take this seriously, and the government must act.
“The pressure our NHS is under is incredible and hospitals are at risk of being overwhelmed.
“These are worrying times for everyone and we need greater support from government to ensure we overcome this deadly virus.
“We can all play our part in helping to overcome this invisible enemy and I once again urge everyone to follow the lockdown rules that have been put in place – stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. We all need to redouble our efforts in ensuring we slow the transmission.
“The facts speak for themselves and it is now estimated that one-in-30 people in London now have coronavirus. Please remember to wash your hands, wear a mask and social distance.
“The quickest route for us to come out of this lockdown is for infection and transmission rates to reduce significantly, and the quickest way for this to happen is for all of us to fully follow the Covid regulations and the public health guidance.
“I want to make it clear that the council is here to support our residents during these challenging times and help is available through our Connected Communities and Haringey Together schemes. Together we can all play our part to defeat this virus.”
Reacting to the news Dr Will Maimaris, Haringey’s Director of Public Health said:
“For weeks and months now people have been warned that another wave of Covid-19 cases was coming and more deaths would result. That is happening now.
“Both the Whittington and the North Middlesex NHS Trusts are seeing an increasing number of patients; hospital beds are filling up; and the number of intensive care units are having to be increased to meet demand.
“We frequently hear talk of our tireless NHS staff, but these people are not machines. They are men and women doing their best against overwhelming odds, there are limits.
“To those of you have listened and have followed the guidance, I’d like to say thank you. But for those who have ignored the advice or disbelieved it, please take this as a wake-up call.
“The people on the wards aren’t numbers on a page, they are real people, with real families. They are your family, your friends, your neighbours, and members of your community. If you have not done so before, take this virus seriously now.”
Explaining why he made the decision, the Mayor of London said:
“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.
“Londoners continue to make huge sacrifices and I am today imploring them to please 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.”
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Haringey People Extra