Mayor warns London situation is critical as virus spreads rapidly



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LONDON (AP) – The mayor of London said on Friday the COVID-19 situation in the capital was critical, reflecting deteriorating conditions in struggling hospitals as the country authorized a third vaccine for emergency use.

Sadiq Khan has declared a “major incident” as the rapid spread of the virus has pushed hospitals to breaking point, with the number of hospitalized patients with coronavirus increasing 27% in the week to January 6. One in 30 people in the British capital was infected with the virus in the week to January 2, according to the Bureau for National Statistics.

Other emergency services are also under strain, with hundreds of firefighters now driving ambulances, for example.

“Our heroic doctors, nurses and NHS staff are doing an incredible job, but with such a rapid increase in cases our hospitals are in danger of being overwhelmed,” Khan said. “The harsh reality is that we are going to run out of beds for patients in the next few weeks, unless the spread of the virus slows down considerably.”

A major incident is defined as an incident in which there is a risk to life and well-being and is “beyond the scope of business-as-usual operations”. It allows coordination between different emergency agencies and will allow London to seek help from other regions.

Khan, a member of the opposition Labor Party, also wrote to Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson to demand more financial support for Londoners who need to self-isolate and are unable to work, and called for masks are also worn in crowded outdoor spaces. like inside.

The action comes as more good news on the fight against the virus has emerged with the approval of the Moderna vaccine as the country steps up a vaccination program essential to pull the UK out of the pandemic.

The Department of Health said on Friday that the vaccine met “the strict standards of safety, efficacy and quality of the British drug regulator”. Britain has ordered 17 million doses to be delivered by spring.

“Vaccines are the key to freeing us all from the grip of this pandemic, and today’s news is another important step towards ending the lockdown and getting back to normal life,” the secretary said. Alok Sharma business.

Britain has so far vaccinated 1.5 million people with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccines. It plans to vaccinate some 15 million people by mid-February.

Authorization comes in as the need for such assistance increases.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said on Thursday the pressures facing hospitals in London and the south-east of England are so intense that a temporary field hospital at the ExCel conference center in London will be open next week.

The hospital was one of many built in the spring to help during the pandemic, but it has not been heavily used.

“The whole of London’s health service is pulling together to do whatever it can, but the infections, the rate of growth in admissions is what the country must collectively get under control,” Stevens said.

The UK is recording virus-related deaths at a level last seen during the worst days at the start of the pandemic. Government figures on Thursday showed an additional 1,162 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus.

The total number of virus-related deaths in the UK is now 78,508. According to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the UK has the highest number of COVID-related deaths in Europe and the fifth highest number in the world.

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