By Muhammad Mussa
LONDON (AA) - Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, issued a “major incident” Saturday for London to help alleviate pressure on the city’s health care services as the omicron variant of the coronavirus ravages the country.
“The Omicron variant has quickly become dominant, with cases increasing rapidly and the number of patients in our hospitals with Covid-19 on the rise again,” the mayor said in a statement, according to the Guardian magazine. “We are already feeling the impact across the capital and, while we are still learning about this variant, it’s right that London’s key agencies work closely together to minimise the impact on our city, including helping to protect the vital vaccination programme.”
The declaration allows various national and public agencies to coordinate and work together in moments of national crises and serves as a warning to the public that health care services such as hospitals and ambulances would not be operating as normal.
Khan made the announcement shortly after the UK recorded its largest 24-hour case increase since the omicron surge began Friday.
Hospitalizations have increased rapidly since the advent of the variant in the UK.
According to data by the Department of Health, 1,534 people were admitted to hospitals in the capital this week -- a 28.6% increase from last week when there were 1,193 admissions.
Khan urged residents to book vaccine appointments as well as booster shots and said the number of venues hosting vaccine and booster centers had increased.
“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,” he said.
On Saturday, 90,418 people tested positive for the virus. In the week beginning Dec. 12, a total of 513,574 people had a confirmed positive test result, representing a 44.4% increase compared to the previous week.
A total of 125 people were reported to have died Dec. 18 and 787 fatalities were reported within one month of testing positive of the virus, a 5.9% decrease when compared to the previous week.
The number of people who have been administered their first dose of the vaccine stands at 51,425,763, with 46,965,009 receiving their second by Dec 17.