A major incident has been declared in London as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said rising coronavirus cases are becoming "out of control'' and threatening to overwhelm hospitals.
City Hall said growing infection rates are "putting immense pressure on an already stretched NHS", with the number of people on mechanical ventilators up from 640 to 908 in the week up to 6 January.
There are 7,034 people currently in hospital with Covid-19 in London, numbers that are 35% higher when put alongside those during the first peak of the pandemic in spring, with The London Ambulance Service is taking up to 8,000 emergency calls a day, up from 5,500 on a typical busy day. The reproductive 'R' rate has also risen from 1.1.-1.3 to 1.0-1.4.
Sadiq Khan announced he is "declaring a major incident" because the threat this virus poses to our city is at crisis point.
Speaking to Sky News, Khan said: "Londoners continue to make huge sacrifices and 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."
All international passengers coming into the UK will also soon have to test negative for Covid-19 before travelling to the UK, with visitors arriving by plane, train or boat, including UK nationals, now having to have given a negative test 72 hours before leaving the country they are in.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said travellers "can't board... without having that negative test", with arrivals from countries not on the travel corridor list still having to quarantine.