The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has effectively declared an emergency in the capital city, which is now posting a coronavirus infection rate of 1 per cent — 1,000 per 100,000 — and has seen hospitals stretched by the number of patients. the Office of national Statistics has put the rate significantly higher, possibly as high as 1 in 30.
Khan declared a “major incident” on Friday, and has asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson for extraordinary powers to close places of worship and make masks mandatory even in crowded spaces outdoors. He is also asking for more financial support for people in self-isolation and unable to work, and for daily updates on the progress of the vaccination programme already underway.
“If we do not take immediate action now,” Khan said, “our NHS could be overwhelmed and more people will die.”
Largely symbolic in nature, major incident declarations follow events that require significant coordination among first responders and emergency services.
Some 7,000 people are currently admitted to London hospitals with Covid-19 — 1 in 30 patients. The major incident declaration means citizens may expect delays in emergency and other services. The London Ambulance Service is reportedly receiving 8,000 calls every day — that’s 3,500 more than the corps handles under normal circumstances.
Public Health England regional director Kevin Fenton called the current coronavirus wave “the biggest threat” to face the capital during the health emergency, and urged Londoners to “cut contacts” and “reduce movements”.