Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville. Photograph: Hackney Council

Residents are being urged to get vaccinated as the race to battle the new Omicron variant intensifies.

Hackney’s mayor Philip Glanville said: “It could not be clearer that coronavirus rates are rising and they represent a serious threat to the health of Hackney and the country this Christmas.”

He was speaking after meeting with Hackney and the City of London’s director of public health Dr Sandra Husbands and senior politicians to plan for the challenges posed by Covid and the new Omicron variant, which has so far claimed the life of one patient in the UK.

Hackney has seen a 48 per cent increase in cases over the last week and an increase in hospital admissions.

There were 1,378 covid cases in the borough in the week ending 7 December – nearly as high as the 1,493 cases seen in the week to 20 July.

The mayor is currently self-isolating whilst awaiting a test after coming into contact with someone with Covid.

He said: “I understand the challenges that people are facing.”

He pointed out that the increase in cases is putting the NHS under pressure: “Sadly, despite all of our efforts over the last 20 months, local people continue to die from coronavirus.”

Last year saw the deaths of 303 Hackney residents, with a further 268 deaths from Covid this year.

This includes 15 in the last month, with eight in one week in early November.

Glanville urged the 100,000 Hackney residents who are not yet fully vaccinated to get their jabs.

“If you are at any point hesitant about the vaccine programme, please get your first vaccine before the end of the year.”

The borough leader reminded people to follow the necessary steps to keep others safe – staying at home if unwell, getting tested, keeping spaces ventilated, wearing a mask, getting vaccinated and taking the booster.

“I know people will be watching the challenges and the shameful events that surrounded Downing Street and the senior leadership of this country over the past few weeks.

“Whilst we all may have our own political views on what the Prime Minister and the staff may or may not have done, that is not a reason to not act to keep Hackney safe and follow public health guidance.

“It’s really, really important that we do that. It’s far more important than the politics of this situation.”

He added: “Do stay safe, stay home if you need to, get vaccinated and get tested.”

Stoke Newington resident Mark Bridgeford is clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid because of an auto-immune disorder and a lung condition.

He shielded along with other vulnerable residents last year. He has been double-vaccinated and received his booster, and his teenage children have also been vaccinated to protect him and others.

Because of his health, he is due another vaccine in January.

He told the Citizen: “What people getting their booster means to me is that I know people are doing their best to help my kids, my family and me enjoy our lives and live as normally as everyone else can.”

He added: “What the booster does, especially now with Omicron, it reduces transmission in the community.”

Details of where to get vaccines from vaccine centres, GPs, pharmacies and the pop-up bus are available here.