London mayor Sadiq Khan on Friday declared a major incident, even as he said the spread of coronavirus was now 'out of control' in the capital.
He indicated that an estimated one in 30 Londoners now have the virus. Result: The number of patients in the capital's hospitals has grown by 27 percent over the last week and the number on ventilators has increased by 42 percent.
Sadiq warned that hospitals could soon be overwhelmed after the surge in coronavirus infections linked to a new strain.
"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," Khan said in a statement, urging greater support from the central UK government.
"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 (National Health Service) could be overwhelmed and more people will die."
Khan hopes the decision will put pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take further measures to combat the spread.
The mayor has written to Johnson asking for greater financial support for Londoners who need to self-isolate, the closure of places of worship and wearing of face masks in all public places.
He urged Londoners to play their part by sticking more closely to the rules.
"I am today imploring them to please stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary for you to leave. Stay at home to protect yourself, your family, friends and other Londoners and to protect our NHS."
A major incident is defined as being "beyond the scope of business-as-usual operations, and is likely to involve serious harm, damage, disruption or risk to human life or welfare, essential services, the environment or national security".