London mayor declares major incident amid COVID-19 case surge

London mayor declares major incident amid COVID-19 case surge




The mayor of London declared a major incident on Saturday as COVID-19 situations are rapidly rising in the United Kingdom’s capital. The surge comes as health officials worldwide express growing concern over the Omicron variant. 

“I’m hugely concerned about the surge of COVID-19 situations and rising hospital admissions across the capital,” Khan said on Twitter Saturday. “By declaring a Major Incident today, meaningful agencies across London can better work together.”

I’m hugely concerned about the surge of COVID-19 situations and rising hospital admissions across the capital. By declaring a Major Incident today, meaningful agencies across London can better work together. I implore every eligible Londoner to get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible. pic.twitter.com/jUOV6REtIP

— Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (@MayorofLondon) December 18, 2021

According to the mayor’s office, a major incident is declared in the U.K. when an event or situation requires special arrangements to be implemented by emergency response agencies. It’s an incident that is “likely to include serious harm, damage, disruption or risk to human life or welfare, basic sets, the ecosystem or national security,” the mayor said. 

The declaration will allow local authorities to reduce service disruption and allow more time to administer booster vaccines, Khan said. 

He before declared a major incident on January 8 as COVID-19 situations in the city were “out of control.” It was terminated a month later, on February 26, as new infections little by little improved.

The latest declaration comes after London reported 26,418 new COVID situations over the last 24 hours, which is the highest number since the pandemic began, the mayor’s office said. Over the past seven days, the city reported 65,525 new confirmed situations and saw a 29% increase of patients hospitalized from COVID-19 complications in the same time period. 

UK records highest daily infections since start of pandemic People walking at streets use disguise due to the increase in situations of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 in London, United Kingdom, on December 16, 2021. The U.K. recorded its highest daily number of COVID-19 situations since the start of the pandemic. The daily case-count reached 88,376. Hasan Esen/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Khan said officials are learning more about the quick-spreading Omicron variant. The strain has been detected in 89 countries since first being labeled a variant of concern on November 26 by the World Health Organization, the agency said. It is likely soon to become the principal form of the virus in countries where the new variant is spreading locally, the WHO said. 

“The Omicron variant has quickly become principal with situations increasing rapidly and the number of patients in our hospitals with COVID-19 on the rise again,” Khan said in a statement Saturday. “We are already feeling the impact across the capital.”

The mayor called on London residents to get vaccinated amidst the case surge. 

“We know that the vaccine offer our best defence against the virus,” he said. “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.”

Meanwhile, British travelers were left scrambling Friday after France announced it would ban all nonessential travelers going to and from the U.K. beginning at midnight.

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Tori B. Powell

Tori B. Powell is a breaking news reporter at CBS News. Reach her at [email protected]

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