The Covid-19 situation in London is now very serious, with the number of Covid-19 cases doubling in the past to week to around 50,000. Infection rates are highest in the North-East of London, with increases seen all across the city.
The number of hospital patients with Covid-19 has increased to around 3,000 compared with around 1,600 one month ago. The number of patients requiring ventilators has increased by 100 over the last week to around 360. There are also pressures on other parts of the NHS, such as GP, mental health, and community services.
The new strain of SARS-CoV-2 is now becoming the most commonly identified strain in London and the South-East of England. It appears to be more infectious than other strains, and this will drive up the number of cases, people requiring hospital treatment and deaths.
The latest statistics show how rapidly the situation can change. From a period around one month ago, when case numbers were falling and NHS pressures were sustainable, we are now on a trajectory of rapidly increasing cases, hospital admissions and deaths in London.
Urgent action is needed to control the Covid-19 pandemic on London, protect its population and reduce pressure on the NHS. This requires everyone to strictly follow the local Tier 4 rules. In particular, mixing indoors with people from other households should be avoided.
Most transmission of infection occurs indoors and it is stopping mixing of people from different households in indoor settings that is the key to breaking chains of infection. Other measures, such as wearing face masks in public spaces and good hygiene, are also essential.
We do now have one vaccine for Covid-19 licensed for use in the UK. We urgently need other vaccines to be approved for use; along with a massive increase in supply of vaccines and mobilisation of the NHS to deliver vaccines to the population on a speed and scale not previously seen in the UK.
Table: London boroughs by highest number of COVID-19 positives per 100k population.7–day rolling rate by specimen date – ending Dec 17. The table is from @UKCovid19Stats.