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London Mayor Sadiq Khan has declared a ‘major incident’ as Covid leaves the NHS at risk of being overwhelmed.
He warned today that the situation is "critical" and that more would die unless urgent steps are taken.
It comes as the number of Covid cases in London has exceeded 1,000 per 100,000, putting immense pressure on an already stretched NHS.
Between December 30 and January 6, the number of patients in London hospitals grew by 27 per cent and the number on mechanical ventilation grew by 42 per cent.
Over the last three days alone the NHS has announced 477 deaths in London hospitals following a positive test for Covid-19.
Latest figures show there are 7,034 Covid patients in London hospitals.
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He 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."
The Mayor has written to the Prime Minister with asks from City Hall and London Councils leaders for greater financial 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, including in supermarket queues and other places outside that may be crowded.
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The 7,034 people currently in hospital with Covid-19 represents a 35 per cent increase compared to the peak of the pandemic in April.
There are currently around 830 admissions to London hospital trusts per day – up from around 500 before Christmas – which could rise further over the next two weeks.
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.
A major incident is defined as being “beyond the scope of business-as-usual operations, and is likely to involve serious harm, damage, disruption or risk to human life or welfare, essential services, the environment or national security”.
London and the South East currently have the highest rates in the UK, data from the Zoe Covid Symptom Study shows
In addition, “the severity of the consequences associated with a major incident are likely to constrain or complicate the ability of responders to resource and manage the incident.”
Georgia Gould, Chair of London Councils, said: "Cases are rising at a dangerous rate in London, putting extreme pressure on the NHS.
"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.
"We know how tough this is for Londoners. Councils are here to support anyone struggling to access food or medicine.
"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.
"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.”