A MAJOR incident has been declared in Sussex in response to the pressures of Covid-19 on the county.

The Sussex Resilience Forum (SRF), which co-ordinates and communicates between health, emergency services and local authorities, agreed to declare the incident from 2pm today.

It is in response to the high and increasing rate of infection across Sussex due to the mutant strain.

Measures to deal with the increased pressure could include making greater use of volunteer help and "preparing in detail for extra capacity."

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A spokesman said: "A major incident is a recognition of national demand and puts all agencies in Sussex in the best possible position to come together to tackle the virus.

"It is a well-recognised and rehearsed escalation that can be expected at times of exceptional need – a major incident was also in place during the summer of 2020.

"The SRF decision recognised the strong and connected pressures across the entire health and care system, from 999 calls to hospital admissions, clinical treatment, discharge from hospital, community services and provision in care homes.

"SRF partners are satisfied that they are currently managing the extra demands on the system but agree that they must now make plans for the likelihood that pressures will increase still further in coming weeks.

"There is a particular need to continue delivering the programme of vaccination to Sussex residents."

The Argus: The streets of Brighton were empty as lockdown beganThe streets of Brighton were empty as lockdown began

The decision comes just days after the county was plunged into a third national locdown.

Prior to the shutdown, Sussex was also moved into Tier 4 in an attempt to slow the spread of the mutant strain.

Assistant Chief Constable Dave Miller, from the Sussex Resilience Forum, said: “Our focus, as ever, is on working together to protect people in Sussex in every way we can. The pressures on the whole system of health and social care are facing this winter are unprecedented and while our services are managing, we know that challenges are only likely to increase in the short term.

"By declaring a major incident, we can put ourselves on the strongest possible footing to combine our efforts and resources to keep people and public services in the best possible health.”