Sadiq Khan declares Omicron surge in London 'major incident'

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. - Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

A major incident has been declared in London amid “huge concern” at the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant across the capital.

It comes after London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was “incredibly worried” about staff absences in vital public services including the NHS, fire service and police due to rapidly rising cases.

The declaration of a major incident will allow authorities to work together and support each other to reduce service disruption and allow more time to give out booster jabs, the mayor’s office said.

Mr Khan said: “The surge in cases of the Omicron variant across our capital is hugely concerning, so we are once again declaring a major incident because of the threat of Covid-19 to our city.

“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.

“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.”

For a third day in a row the UK reported record Covid figures on Friday, with 93,045 new cases. A further 900 people were hospitalised with the virus and 111 people died. Another 3,201 Omicron cases were confirmed by the UK Health Security Agency, bringing the UK total to 14,909.

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Before declaring a major incident Mr Khan spoke of his concern at potential staff absences in the NHS, fire brigade, police service, and across councils as more and more people become infected with Omicron.

Georgia Gould, chair of London Councils and the leader of Camden's local authority, said: “The rapid spread of Omicron across our city is of huge concern.

“Local councils have stepped up and played a vital role in supporting their communities through the pandemic, I know they will continue with these efforts but we cannot do this alone.”

Additional reporting by PA.