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Sadiq Khan declares ‘major incident’ in London due to spread of Covid-19

Sadiq Khan says hospitals will be overwhelmed if action is not taken now 

The Mayor of London has declared a ‘major incident’ due to the rapid spread of coronavirus across the capital. 

Sadiq Khan has warned the city is at “crisis point” and said “if we do not take immediate action now, our NHS could be overwhelmed.” 

The number of Covid-19 cases in London now exceeds 1,000 per 100,000.

Barking and Dagenham has the highest coronavirus infection rate in the country with 1,615 per 100,000 while Newham and Redbridge are also in the top five. 

Havering has the fifth highest infection rate and 17,979 residents had tested positive for Covid-19 as of Friday, 1 January 2021. 

“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,” added Mr Khan.

“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.” 

There are more than 7,000 people in hospital with Covid-19 in London, representing a 35 per cent increase compared to the peak of the pandemic in April. 

Queen’s Hospital began treating people with coronavirus in the back of ambulances last week due to a lack of available beds. 

They are now aiming to open an ambulance receiving centre to help ambulance crews hand patients over to the hospital’s emergency department more quickly. 

Barking MP, Dame Margaret Hodge, also raised concerns that demand for oxygen was running at 100 per cent or more of the supply available at the hospital during Prime Ministers Questions on Wednesday, 6 January. 

However, a spokesperson for the hospital confirmed they had not stopped oxygen for any patients who needed it at the time. 

A major incident is declared when an event or situation with a range of serious consequences requires special arrangements to be implemented by one or more emergency responder agencies. 

Mr Khan has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for greater support for Londoners who need to self isolate and are not able to work, daily vaccination data, the closure of places of worship and for face masks to be worn routinely outside of the home. 

Georgia Gould, Chair of London Councils, said: “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.

“Today, the thoughts of London leaders are with the thousands of Londoners in hospital battling Covid and the amazing carers fighting to save lives. We owe it to them to do all we can to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

“We know how tough this is for Londoners. Councils are here to support anyone struggling to access food or medicine.

“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.”

For more on this story, and the latest on our other local and national news, listen to Time 107.5FM

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