London declares ‘major incident’ with hospitals at risk of COVID deluge

LONDON (AFP) – London mayor Sadiq Khan yesterday declared a major incident, warning hospitals in the British capital could soon be overwhelmed after a surge in coronavirus infections linked to a new strain.

“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,” Khan said in a statement, urging greater support from the central (UK) government.

“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 (National Health Service) could be overwhelmed and more people will die.”

An estimated one in 30 Londoners now have the virus. The number of patients in the capital’s hospitals has grown by 27 per cent over the last week and the number on ventilators has increased by 42 per cent.

Khan hopes the decision will put pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take further measures to combat the spread.

Paramedics unload a patient from an ambulance outside the Royal London Hospital in east. PHOTO: AFP