Major Incident Declared In London As PM Holds Emergency Cobra Meeting On Omicron Spread
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has declared a major incident in London as he says he is “incredibly concerned” about the spread of the Omicron variant in the capital.
Boris Johnson also convened an emergency Cobra meeting on Saturday in response to the escalating situation after the number of Covid cases hit 93,000 on Friday, breaking the UK’s daily case record for the third day in a row.
Johnson has also reportedly briefed his Cabinet on the rapid spread of the virus amid suggestions that further restrictions could be needed to slow transmission.
In minutes released by Sage on Saturday, scientific advisors told the government that hospital admissions in England could soon reach 3,000 a day if further restrictions aren’t brought in.
They warned that indoor mixing was the “biggest risk factor” and implored government not to wait until 2022 to tighten restrictions.
The Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational sub-group (SPI-M-O) advised that "earlier intervention also reduces the wave of hospitalisations” in the document, dated 8 December.
“A significant reduction in transmission (similar in scale to the national lockdown implemented in January 2021 and the pingdemic” in July 2021) is required to keep hospitalisations below the height of previous peaks,” it said.
Khan said the decision to declare a major incident in London was “a statement of how serious things are”, and that the 26,000 Covid cases recorded in the capital on Friday were putting pressure on emergency services.
"I've been meeting over the last few days, on a daily basis, colleagues across the city from the NHS to councils, from the fire service to the police — we're incredibly concerned by the huge surge in the Omicron variant," he said.
"The big issue we have is the number of Londoners who have this virus and this is leading to big issues in relation to staff absences and the ability of our public services to run at the optimal levels.
Over 1,500 people are currently in hospital in London with the virus, according to recent figures, which is a 28.6% rise on the week before.
Khan said that evidence suggests Omicron is now the “dominant variant” in London as he called for further support from the government to support struggling businesses.
“The government has got to provide a financial package of measures, grants, 100% business rates relief and more news in relation to furlough," he said.
"If the government doesn't, you are going to see many businesses going bust and tens of thousands of people losing their jobs."
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