London Declares State of Emergency as COVID-19 Surge Threatens to Overwhelm Hospitals
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, declared a “major incident” in the city on Friday as a surge in COVID-19 cases threatened to overwhelm hospitals, with around 1 in 30 Londoners estimated to be infected with the virus.
“The situation in London is now critical with the spread of the virus out of control,” Khan said as he made the declaration, which allows emergency services to take special measures to combat the crisis and has previously been applied during terrorist attacks in Central London and the Grenfell Tower Fire. “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 emergence of a new, more infectious strain of COVID-19 in the U.K. in December has triggered a significant spike in transmission rates across the country, despite existing social distancing measures and tight restrictions on gatherings. The U.K. has recorded more than 50,000 new cases of COVID-19 every day of 2021 so far, with a peak of more than 62,000 on Wednesday. On Friday the country recorded its highest ever daily death toll, with 1,325 people dying after testing positive for the virus in a 24-hour period, more than the worst day during the peak of the first wave in April.