The Metropolitan Police have urged Londoners to ‘stick to the rules and stay at home’ after London was declared a ‘major incident’ today due to the rapid spread of Covid-19 across the capital.
There are currently around 830 admissions to London hospital trusts per day – up from around 500 before Christmas – which could rise further over the next two weeks.
Deputy assistant commissioner of the Met, Matt Twist said: “The announcement that London has declared a major incident in the battle against Coronavirus is a stark reminder of the critical point we are at.
“Our health service colleagues are fighting this virus every day on the frontline, but the case rate continues to increase and the number of people affected in London is alarming.
“Now more than ever is the moment for people to stick to the rules, and stay at home.
“There can be no doubt that right now we find ourselves at a serious and dangerous crossroads for London; everyone must look at this news and understand that our health service is nearing breaking point.
“I know Londoners will be shocked that officers are still dealing with a small selfish minority who think the rules don’t apply to them by holding house parties, large warehouse raves or other gatherings.
“These rule breakers cannot continue to feign ignorance of the risk that this virus poses or listen to the false information and lies that some promote downplaying the dangers.
“Every time the virus spreads it increases the risk of someone needlessly losing their life.”
The latest figures show one in 30 Londoners are believed to be infected with Covid-19 and there have been 477 Covid-related deaths in London hospitals in the last three days alone.
The impact is also being felt right across the emergency services with hundreds of firefighters from London Fire Brigade once again assisting London Ambulance Service by volunteering to drive ambulances as the ambulance services faces one of the busiest times in its history.
Since volunteering to help in April last year, firefighters have now responded to 100,000 incidents whilst driving ambulances.
The London Ambulance Service is now taking up to 8,000 emergency calls a day now, compared to 5,500 on a typical busy day.
Mr Khan said: “The situation in London is now critical with the spread of the virus out of control.
“We are declaring a major incident because the threat this virus poses to our city is at crisis point.
“If we do not take immediate action now, our NHS could be overwhelmed and more people will die.”
Earlier this week the Met issued refreshed instructions to officers to issue fines more quickly to anyone committing obvious, wilful and serious breaches.
A woman in Kensington is reportedly being considered for a £10,000 fixed penalty notice for breaching restrictions after throwing a New Year’s Eve party for more than 100 people.
“Across the Met we continue to provide a resilient and strong policing service to Londoners.That does not mean the Met is immune to the virus,” said DAC Twist.
“As London’s biggest single employer, we have of course seen sickness and self-isolation.
“This is a real concern to us but thankfully owing to a drop in demand in some areas of policing and the fact that some of our staff can work from home, we have been able to flex our officers and remain resilient whilst also supporting the wider partnership effort to keep people safe.
“My message to the majority who are sticking to the rules is ‘thank you’.
“You are London’s unsung heroes and your actions are undoubtedly helping to save lives.
“To those who have broken the rules or are thinking of doing so, I urge you to see the bigger picture otherwise you face enforcement action – and risk losing family or friends and leaving an indelible impact on your community.”
A major incident can be declared when a situation is deemed “beyond the scope of business as usual” and can be due to “serious harm, damage, disruption or risk to human life”.
Major incidents have been called previously for the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, the terror attacks at Westminster Bridge and London Bridge and the Croydon tram crash in November 2016.
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