Major incident declared across London as Omicron batters emergency services

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A ‘major incident’ has been declared across London as Covid-19 continues to put emergency services under huge pressure. 

Sadiq Khan said hospitals are operating at full capacity and other key services are struggling with staff absences.

It’s the first time London has faced this situation since the last winter coronavirus wave. 

The capital has seen 65,525 new confirmed cases in the past seven days and 26,418 cases were reported in the last 24 hour period alone, a new record.

The mayor’s office said staff absences in frontline services are ‘causing challenges’.

A major incident is declared when pressures on emergency services could lead to ‘serious harm, damage, disruption or risk to human life or welfare, essential services, the environment or national security’

Coordination between public services will be stepped up and overseen by a central committee, which will have a government representative sitting on it.

The last major incident ran from January 8 to February 26.

Hospital admissions in London have increased by 29% in the last seven days and are set to continue rising.

Mr Khan said: ‘The surge in cases of the Omicron variant across our capital is hugely concerning, so we are once again declaring a major incident because of the threat of COVID-19 to our city.

‘The Omicron variant has quickly become dominant with cases increasing rapidly and the number of patients in our hospitals with COVID-19 on the rise again. 

‘We are already feeling the impact across the capital and while we are still learning about this variant, it’s right that London’s key agencies work closely together to minimise the impact on our city, including helping to protect the vital vaccination programme.

‘We know that the vaccine offer our best defence against the virus. There are now more clinics in London delivering vaccines than at any point during the pandemic. 

‘I urge all Londoners to book their appointment or to go to one of the many walk-in centres across the capital as soon as you can.’

The announcement comes after the Fire Brigades Union warned up to a third of London’s engines were unable to be staffed at points this week because of staff shortages.

London Ambulance Service has urged people only to call 999 in emergency amid an unprecedented level of calls.

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