Patients arrive in ambulances at the Royal London Hospital in London on January 5, 2021. The British Prime Minister made a national televised address on Monday evening, announcing that England would take action against the Covid-19 pandemic for the third time. This week, the UK recorded more than 50,000 new confirmed Covid cases for the seventh straight day.
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LONDON – London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a serious incident on Friday over the rapid spread of the coronavirus in the British capital.
He had previously warned that the virus was “out of control” and that the National Health Service was “on the verge of being overwhelmed”.
“I reported a major event in London because the threat this virus poses to our city is in crisis,” Khan said on Twitter.
“One in 30 Londoners now has COVID-19. If we don’t take action now, our NHS could be overwhelmed and more people will die,” he added.
Serious incidents have already been reported following the fire in Grenfell Tower in June 2017 and the terrorist attacks on Westminster Bridge in March 2017 and London Bridge in November 2019.
The announcement comes shortly after weekly dates through January 2nd. London’s coronavirus infection rate had risen to 1,038 per 100,000 population. That number contrasts with a citywide infection rate of 818 per 100,000 in the previous week.
For comparison, the national infection rate was 612 per 100,000 in the week ending January 2.
Stressed health facilities
Increasing pressure on already strained city health facilities coincides with the resurgent spread of Covid-19 as the UK scrambles to contain a highly infectious variant of the virus.
On Wednesday, the Health Service Journal reported, citing a leaked briefing from NHS England to senior doctors in the capital, that London hospitals were well on their way to being overwhelmed by Covid within two weeks.
The report said the NHS England presentation predicted the capital’s health service would have close to 2,000 beds for general, acute and intensive care by Jan. 19, even if additional Covid patients grew at the slowest rate that is considered likely.
NHS England was not immediately available to comment on the report when CNBC contacted him on Friday.
A nurse is adjusting her PPE in the intensive care unit at St. George’s Hospital in Tooting, South West London, where the number of intensive care beds for the critically ill had to be increased from 60 to 120, the vast majority of them for coronavirus patients.
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Daily death toll hits record
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the third national lockdown for England on Monday to contain the spread of the virus. He urged people to “stay home,” just like they did in March 2020 during the country’s first national lockdown. The measures came into law on Wednesday.
To date, the UK has registered 2.89 million cases of Covid-19 with 78,633 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. On Friday, the government reported that an additional 1,325 people had died within 28 days of a positive test, the highest daily death toll since the pandemic began.
In recent weeks, optimism about the mass rollout of Covid vaccines appears to have been tempered by the resurgent rate of spread of the virus.
The UK on Friday approved Moderna’s Covid vaccine for emergencies in the country. It is the third shot approved for use in the UK following previous vaccine approvals from Pfizer and BioNTech, as well as the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca.