Sadiq Khan declares major incident over ‘huge surge’ of Omicron cases

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Sadiq Khan has declared a "major incident" in London following the "huge surge" of Omicron cases and a stark increase in hospital admissions.

The Mayor of London said he has been meeting with colleagues from the NHS, councils and the fire service about the rise in infections of the new COVID variant, with over 10,000 new cases reported nationwide today.

Although no new measures have been announced, he said: "In the last 24 hours, we have had the largest number of new cases since the pandemic began, more than 26,000.

"Hospital admissions are going up but also staff absences are going up by massive levels, so I have taken the decision, along with our partners, to declare a major incident."

A major incident is declared when an event or situation which could result in a range of serious consequences requires special arrangements to be enforced by emergency response teams.

Those emergency response teams could be the police, ambulance service or fire brigade.

Major incidences have last been for such incidents as the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 and the terror attack at Westminster Bridge in 2017.

Mr Khan said: "This is a statement of how serious things are, but also it means rather than different public authorities working separately we will be working together through both the London Resilience Forum and also through the strategic co-ordinating group."

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The latest figures showed there were almost 1,534 COVID patients in hospital across London on 17 December, a stark rise of 341 from a week earlier.

Across the UK, 7,611 people are in hospital with the virus, a rise of 163 patients on the previous week.

Mr Khan said Londoners will soon see more places offering COVID vaccines.

He said: "It is really important Londoners understand how serious things are. The best thing Londoners can do is to get both vaccines and the booster, they provide extra layers of protection."

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