With hospitalizations and the rapid rise in new coronavirus cases fueled by the surge in the Omicron variant, the Mayor of London on Saturday declared a “major incident” – or emergency – for the first time since January.
The declaration sets out specific coordination procedures and states that emergency services and hospitals cannot guarantee a normal level of response.
This move was due to the fact that the number of patients in London hospitals increased by 29 percent in the last week. The city has confirmed 65,525 new cases in the past week and 26,418 cases in the last day, the highest since the pandemic began, Mayor Sadyk Khan said in a statement Saturday. In the Greater London area, the number of cases has increased by almost 200 percent over the past two weeks, making it the most affected area in the UK.
“It is very important that Londoners understand how serious matters are,” said Mr Khan in a video posted by The Telegraph. “The best Londoners can do is both vaccines and boosters. They provide additional layers of protection. ”
The really bad news, he added, is that the “vast majority” of those hospitalized are not vaccinated.
British health officials warned this week that in parts of the country, the amount of Omicron is being doubled as often as every two days. While the impact on hospital admissions and mortality rates remained unclear, the NHS is likely to face an influx of patients due to skyrocketing numbers of cases, England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty said this week.
“It’s moving at an absolutely phenomenal speed,” he said.
Countries across Europe are taking tough measures to stem the spread of the Omicron variant. The Netherlands announced total isolation, Denmark closed theaters and concert halls, and Ireland imposed a 20:00 pub curfew.
In the UK, the wave of the virus has put heavy pressure on politicians. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under fire in recent weeks after reports that his employees held holiday gatherings in Downing Street last year at a time when the government ordered people not to meet with friends and family.
In London, Mr. Khan is trying to overcome doubts about the vaccine. On Saturday, he visited a mass vaccination clinic and announced a series of virtual events to encourage Londoners to get vaccinated.
City Hall said the pandemic has caused disproportionate damage to black and Asian communities in London, as well as to low-income residents. These communities, in particular black Londoners, said at the office, were also targeted by misinformation about vaccines.
London City Hall said more than 2.5 million booster doses have been administered in London, but more than a million eligible residents have yet to receive a single dose.
The last time Mr Khan announced a major incident was in January, when the peak number of Covid-19 cases hit the NHS. He also made the same statement regarding the 2016 tram crash, the 2017 Grenfell tower fire and the terrorist attack near London. Bridge in 2019.