The capital’s escalating epidemic crisis was discussed by the Covid “O” (operations) committee, chaired by Boris Johnson, earlier today.
The new tiering allocations for the country were due to be announced on Wednesday, but the move to put the capital into the strictest tier was instead announced this afternoon.
The new curbs will come into force at midnight on Wednesday, Mr Hancock said.
“The numbers are really bad,” said a senior health source. Wes Streeting, chairman of the Labour group of London MPs, added earlier: “The numbers don’t lie. We have got exponential growth in London… people should prepare for Tier 3.”
MPs from London, Essex, Kent, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire were briefed this morning by a minister and senior health officials on outbreaks in their areas.
On the briefing call, Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer, reportedly told MPs that cases were doubling in some hotspots every five to seven days as was happening as the first-wave epidemic took off in March.
One health official also said that even lockdown and Tier 3 had failed to stem the rise in cases in areas of Kent. MPs questioned the officials and health minister Helen Whately on whether it made sense to impose new Tier 3 restrictions, then allow millions of families to mix over the Christmas period, before re-instating the strict restrictions.
Eight London Conservative MPs wrote to the Prime Minister this weekend pleading with him not to put the capital into Tier 3 for the sake of the economy and young people. Harrow East MP Bob Blackman, the lead author, said: “It puts jobs at risk and would especially impact on young people.”
Mayor Sadiq Khan is calling for far more financial support for businesses in the capital which will suffer huge damage from Tier 3, particularly the hospitality sector, in the run-up to Christmas.
The Government, though, has reportedly discussed with borough leaders even tougher measures than Tier 3, with the possible closure of schools and non-essential shops.
Liberal Democrat health spokeswoman Munira Wilson, MP for Twickenham, said: “We are just days away from the rules being relaxed for Christmas and with neither national nor Tier 3 restrictions seemingly having an impact on transmission rates in Kent, the Government needs to put forward a set of evidence-based measures to tackle the causes of the spread.”
Ministers have been deeply reluctant to put the capital, the country’s economic powerhouse, into Tier 3.
However, the disease is growing at an increasing rate and could be fuelled further by mixing between households during the Christmas period.
The grim figures include:
- The number of confirmed cases reaching 23,913 in the week to December 10, with the real number of cases several times higher, partly because so many people have the disease asymptomatically
- Enfield seeing the number of confirmed cases jumping by 74 per cent in the week to December 8
- The seven-day rate of new cases per 100,000 people soaring to 470.8 in Havering in the week to December 8
- Five boroughs having more than 1,000 new cases in that week; Havering (1,222), Redbridge (1,109) Newham (1,084), Enfield (1,017) and Waltham Forest (1,013)
- Every borough apart from Westminster and Ealing seeing cases rising by more than 20 per cent a week, with ten by more than 44 per cent
- While north east London remains the Covid hotspot, the disease appears to be seeping across the city, with cases rising by 50.9 per cent in Southwark, 49.9 per cent in Lewisham and 48.6 per cent in Greenwich
- Greenwich council chiefs told schools in the borough to close from this evening
- The seven-day rate in London rising to 224.7 in the week to December 8, up from 210.9 the previous day, from 154.8 on November 26, having earlier in the second wave peaked at 200.2 in mid-November
- The number of Covid patients admitted to hospital rising to 1,307 in the week to December 9th, with 248 on that day, a figure not reached since April 28 during the first wave peak
- The number of coronavirus patients in the city’s hospitals rose to 2,092 on December 12, compared to 5,201 on April 9, though it is expected to increase further given the surge in cases
- Doctors have got far better at treating the disease and the number of Covid patients on ventilators in London hospitals has remained steady in the last two weeks, at 256 on the 12th
In Enfield there were 1017 cases in the week to December 8, up 433 (74.1 per cent) with a rate of 304.7, Harrow 615 cases, up 211 (52.2 per cent) with a rate of 244.9, Waltham Forest 1013 cases, up 342 (51 per cent) with a rate of 365.7, Southwark 522 cases, up 176 (50.9 per cent) with a rate of 163.7, Lewisham 514 cases, up 171 (49.9 per cent) with a rate of 168.1, Greenwich 648 cases, up 212 (48.6 per cent) with a rate of 225, Havering 1222 cases, up 399 (48.5 per cent) with a rate of 470.8, Sutton 442 cases, up 143 (47.8 per cent) with a rate of 214.2, Hackney and City of London 649 cases, up 201 (44.9 per cent) with a rate of 223.1, Richmond 228 cases, up 70 (44.3 per cent) with a rate of 115.1, Hammersmith and Fulham 253 cases, up 72 (39.8 per cent) with a rate of 136.7, Haringey 614 cases, up 171 (38.6 per cent) with a rate of 228.6, Croydon 763 cases, up 200 (35.5 per cent) with a rate of 197.3, Wandsworth 512 cases, up 134 (35.4 per cent) with a rate of 155.3, and Tower Hamlets 930 cases, up 242 (35.2 per cent) with a rate of 286.4.
In Lambeth there were 503 cases, up 130 (34.9 per cent) with a rate of 154.3, Bromley 748 cases, up 189 (33.8 per cent) with a rate of 225.1, Kensington and Chelsea 210 cases, up 51 (32.1 per cent) with a rate of 134.5, Merton 491 cases, up 115 (30.6 per cent) with a rate of 237.7,
In Camden, there were 326 cases, up 74 (29.4 per cent) with a rate of 120.7, Hillingdon 634 cases, up 143 (29.1 per cent) with a rate of 206.6, Barking and Dagenham 777 cases, up 170 (28 per cent) with a rate of 364.9, Kingston 452 cases, up 97 (27.3 per cent) with a rate of 254.6, Bexley 727 cases, up 156 (27.3 per cent) with a rate of 292.8, Newham 1084 cases, up 230 (26.9 per cent) with a rate of 307, Hounslow 507 cases, up 103 (25.5 per cent) with a rate of 186.7, Barnet 767 cases, up 153 (24.9 per cent) with a rate of 193.8, Islington 350 cases, up 66 (23.2 per cent) with a rate of 144.3, Brent 611 cases, up 104 (20.5 per cent) with a rate of 185.3, Redbridge 1109 cases, up 187 (20.3 per cent) with a rate of 363.3, Westminster 279 cases, up 33 (13.4 per cent) with a rate of 106.8, and Ealing 618 cases, up 56 (10 per cent) with a rate of 180.8.