Covid: London ‘major incident’ declared due to Omicron riseon December 18, 2021 at 3:37 pm

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Mayor Sadiq Khan says the variant is having an impact on staff absences in the emergency services.

Woman in London

Image source, PA Media

The Mayor of London has declared a “major incident” due to the rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant in the capital.

Sadiq Khan said Omicron was now the “dominant variant” in London and was having an impact on staff absences in the emergency services across the city.

He said London was the UK region with the largest number of Covid cases.

Latest government data shows there are 1,534 Covid patients in London hospitals – up 28.6% on last week.

Mr Khan said in the last 24 hours, London had seen the largest number of new cases since the coronavirus pandemic began – more than 26,000.

He added: “Hospital admissions are going up, but also staff absences are going up by a massive level.

“So I’ve taken the decision in consultation with our partners to declare a major incident today.”

Sadiq Khan

Image source, PA Media

Major incidents have previously been called in response to the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 and the terror attacks at Westminster Bridge and London Bridge.

A major incident is any emergency which requires the implementation of special arrangements by one or all of the emergency services, the NHS or the local authority.

It means the emergency services and hospitals cannot guarantee their normal level of response.

Parliament Square

Image source, EPA

Mr Khan said: “The really bad news is those in hospital – the vast, vast majority are unvaccinated that’s why it is so important to get both the vaccines and the booster jab.

“Londoners will notice over the course of the next few days even more places across the city offering both the vaccines and the booster.

“What we can’t afford to see is even more of our crucial key workers going off sick because they have this virus.”

Covid hospital admissions chart

Mr Khan’s comments came as Wembley Stadium, Stamford Bridge and The Valley were all set up as mass vaccination centres.

Oxford Street will also have a vaccination bus and Mr Khan urged people who were eligible to get a booster jab and for others to make sure they were vaccinated.

He said: “It is still the case that in some pockets of London there are black Londoners, there are Muslim Londoners, there are Jewish Londoners, there are Eastern European Londoners, who still haven’t had a vaccine.

“So reaching out to those communities…to explain why the vaccine is important and to make sure nobody is left behind, we are making sure more Londoners get the first dose.”

London poster

Image source, Reuters

Omicron is now thought to be the dominant Covid variant in England and Scotland, replacing Delta.

On Friday, the UK saw another record number of daily Covid cases for the third consecutive day, with more than 93,000 infections confirmed.

But there were also a record 861,306 booster and third dose vaccine jabs administered – the highest daily total so far.

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