The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, declared a major incident on Saturday as COVID-19 cases are rapidly rising. “By declaring a Major Incident today, key agencies across London can better work together.” According to the mayor’s office, a major incident is declared in the U.K. when an event or situation requires special arrangements to be implemented by emergency response agencies. The declaration was made after 65,525 new Covid-19 cases were confirmed in London over the past seven days.The rapid spread of the variant was felt across the city with staff absences in front-line services. Khan said officials are learning more about the quick-spreading Omicron variant, detected now in 89 countries. The mayor called on London residents to get vaccinated. “We know that the vaccine offer our best defence against the virus. There are now more clinics in London delivering vaccines than at any point during the pandemic. I urge all Londoners to book their appointment or to go to one of the many walk-in centres across the capital as soon as you can.” Wembley Stadium, Stamford Bridge and The Valley were all set up as mass vaccination centers.
Despite the advice from global experts, there was resistance to the measures, including from members of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party. The severity of the omicron variant is still unclear. Major incidents have previously been called in response to the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 and the terror attacks at Westminster Bridge and London Bridge. This year, Mr Khan also declared a major incident on 8 January due to the rapid spread of Covid-19. It was in place until 26 February.