London declares 'major incident' to help COVID-hit hospitals

London declares
# 18 December 2021 20:26 (UTC +04:00)

London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a "major incident" on Saturday to help the capital's hospitals cope with a surge in COVID-19 cases caused by the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant.

Khan took the step, which allows for closer coordination between different public agencies, after Britain reported on Friday the largest 24-hour increase in the number of new cases since the pandemic began.

Hospital admissions and health worker absences are rising, Khan said, "so I've taken the decision, in consultation with our partners, to declare a major incident today".

"This is a statement of how serious things are," he said.

Khan, from the opposition Labour Party, also declared a major incident in January when rising COVID-19 cases threatened to overwhelm hospitals.

The Omicron variant is estimated to account for more than 80% of new COVID-19 cases in London.