5pm UPDATE: ELLA HOPKINS reports on the rapidly worsening situation around the capital’s hospitals, including Croydon, as the death toll rises to a record number
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has declared a major incident, as coronavirus cases continue to rise rapidly and the city’s hospitals become overwhelmed.
“The situation in London is now critical with the spread of the virus out of control,” Mayor Khan said at lunchtime.
The Mayor was responding to the latest official estimates, which suggest that 1-in-30 Londoners have been infected with the virus.
In Croydon, according to the Office for National Statistics, the infection rate is higher still, at 1-in-20.
The Mayor’s emergency announcement comes after The Health Service Journal reported that the East Surrey Hospital in Redhill yesterday declared a critical care level alert of 4 – the highest possible. In Dartford, the Darrent Valley Hospital is at 173 per cent occupancy of its beds for critical care and may have to refuse or withdraw critical care to patients due to resource limitation.
Croydon has averaged more than 600 new covid cases every day this week, rising to 19,064 cases in total yesterday. There were 244 people receiving treatment for covid in Mayday Hospital on January 6, according to an email sent to councillors from Rachel Flowers, the council’s director of public health, who called the situation “extremely serious”.
Today Khan said: “The number of cases in London has increased rapidly with more than one-third more patients being treated in our hospitals now compared to the peak of the pandemic last April.
“Our heroic doctors, nurses and NHS staff are doing an amazing job, but with cases rising so rapidly, our hospitals are at risk of being overwhelmed. The stark reality is that we will run out of beds for patients in the next couple of weeks unless the spread of the virus slows down drastically.”
In a tweet at 1.16pm, Khan added, “One in 30 Londoners now has COVID-19. If we do not take immediate action now, our NHS could be overwhelmed and more people will die.”
The Guardian reported, “The move comes as the number of covid-19 cases in London has exceeded 1,000 per 100,000, putting immense pressure on an already stretched NHS.
“Over the last three days, the NHS has announced 477 deaths in London hospitals following a positive test for covid-19.
“The 7,034 people in hospital with covid-19 represents a 35 per cent increase compared with the peak of the pandemic in April. There are about 830 admissions to London hospital trusts per day – up from around 500 before Christmas – which may rise further over the next two weeks.”
Georgia Gould, the chair of the London Councils organisation of boroughs, told the BBC that London’s rising coronavirus rate was “dangerous”.
She said: “One in 30 Londoners now has Covid. This is why public services across London are urging all Londoners to please stay at home except for absolutely essential shopping and exercise.”
The government has said that 1,325 people have died from covid-19 in the last 24 hours – a record high figure since the outbreak began; nationally, 68,053 more people had tested positive in the last day.
The latest ONS estimate is that 1-in-20 people in Croydon are infected. “This is a huge number to be infected simultaneously especially for a region that was hard hit in spring,” said one medical professional.
Inside Croydon approached Mayday Hospital for its latest figures on admissions related to covid-19, but they declined to answer.
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