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London's COVID situation is 'critical and threatens to overwhelm NHS'

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London mayor Sadiq Khan
London mayor Sadiq Khan   -   Copyright  Victoria Jones/AP
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COVID-19 is “out of control” in London and its hospitals are at risk of being overwhelmed, the city’s mayor Sadiq Khan has warned.

He declared a major incident in the UK capital on Friday and called for government support because the threat of the virus had reached “crisis point”.

What do the figures tell us?

The number of COVID-19 cases in London is far higher than any other British region.

On Thursday, authorities said 92,833 people had tested positive in the previous seven days.

The number of Londoners who died in the same period was 9,306.

It came as the UK government said the R number, the rate by which an infected person spreads the virus to others, could now be as high as 1.4

What did Khan say?

“The situation in London is now critical with the spread of the virus out of control,” Khan said in a statement on Friday.

“The number of cases in London has increased rapidly, with more than a third more patients being treated in our hospitals now compared to the peak of the pandemic last April.

“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.”

What is a 'major incident'?

Major incidents are declared in Britain following events or situations that require the authorities to make special arrangements in response.

The last major incident to be called in London was in June 2017, when a fire spread rapidly through the Grenfell residential tower block in the west of the city, killing 72 people.

Our journalists are working on this story and will update it as soon as more information becomes available.

Watch Victoia Smith's report in the player above