People leave the Charing Cross hospital in London, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. Britain’s National Health Service will from next week…
People leave the Charing Cross hospital in London, Jan. 8, 2021, as Britain’s National Health Service will now employ a little-used field hospital specially built at a huge exhibition center in east London in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic las

London Mayor Sadiq Khan Friday declared a “major incident” in the city, due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 there, which he said could overwhelm the National Health Service if it remains unchecked.

Khan posted a statement to his official Twitter account and told reporters that he has never been more concerned about the pandemic than he is now. He cited an Office of National Statistics estimate saying one in 30 people in the British capital now has the virus, and said in some areas, it is closer to one in 20.

In his statement, the mayor cited signs the virus may be out of control. He said the London Ambulance Service is now taking up to 8,000 emergency calls a day, compared to 5,500 on a typical busy day, and there are now 35 percent more people hospitalized with COVID-19 in London than the peak in the spring.

The mayor says he has reached out to Prime Minister Boris Johnson for financial support for Londoners who need to self-isolate and are not able to work.  He is urging residents to stay at home if possible and to wear face masks if they must go out.

A major incident is defined as being “beyond the scope of business-as-usual operations, and is likely to involve serious harm, damage, disruption or risk to human life or welfare, essential services, the environment or national security.” It is an event or situation with a range of serious consequences, which requires special arrangements to be implemented by one or more emergency agency.

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