London Mayor Sadiq Khan
London Mayor Sadiq Khan
File Photo: AFP

Amid a rising number of coronavirus cases threatening to overwhelm hospitals, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan on Sunday (January 10) said that the British capital will run out of hospital beds as early as in the next two weeks unless the spread of the virus slows down.

“The situation in London is critical. This week I declared a major incident due to the threat this virus poses to Londoners. The reality is we will run out of hospital beds in the next 2 weeks unless the spread of COVID-19 slows down. Please, stay at home,” said Khan in a tweet.

In another tweet carrying an interview of his to Sky News, Sadiq Khan said, "There’s no doubt that we’re facing the most dangerous moment yet in this pandemic. The truth is I’ve never been more concerned than I am right now. At this critical moment for our city - I implore Londoners to please stay at home."

The ultimatum from the Mayor to Londoners comes a day after the Khan declared a "major incident" in the British capital as, in his own words, "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," he had said.

According to the mayor, the number of confirmed cases in London has increased rapidly with more than a third more patients being treated in 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," he added.

There are currently around 830 admissions to London hospitals per day, up from around 500 before Christmas, which could rise further over the next two weeks, according to The Guardian newspaper.

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".

Major incidents have previously been called for the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 and the terror attacks at Westminster Bridge and London Bridge.

The UK on Sunday announced a major expansion of COVID-19 tests being made available more widely to asymptomatic people.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.

(With inputs from agencies)

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