Prime Minister Boris Johnson says at least one patient has died with the omicron Covid variant in the UK

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U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street to attend Prime Ministers Questions at the Houses of Parliament on July 7, 2021 in London, England.
Chris J Ratcliffe | Getty Images News | Getty Images

LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed Monday that at least one patient infected with the new omicron variant of Covid-19 has died in the country.

“Sadly yes, omicron is producing hospitalizations and sadly at least one patient has been confirmed to have died with omicron,” Johnson told reporters on a visit to a vaccination clinic near Paddington, London, according to Sky News.

“So I think the idea that this is somehow a milder version of the virus, I think that’s something we need to set on one side and just recognize the sheer pace at which it accelerates through the population. So the best thing we can do is all get our boosters.” he said.

Earlier on Monday, U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid told the BBC that 10 people were currently in hospital after being infected with the omicron variant. Javid said omicron was spreading at a “phenomenal rate” and cases were doubling every few days.

It comes after a study announced by the University of Oxford on Monday found that two doses of either the Oxford-AstraZeneca or PfizerBioNTech Covid-19 vaccine were substantially less effective at warding off omicron compared to previous variants of the coronavirus.

Scientists were, however, optimistic that booster shots would improve immunity against the new, highly transmissible variant.

In a televised statement on Sunday, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Britain faces a “tidal wave” of omicron infections, and announced that the country would be speeding up its booster program to offer all adults a third dose of a vaccine by the end of the year. The government had previously been aiming to extend its booster scheme to all over-18s by the end of January.

Johnson’s statement came after the chief medical officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland raised the U.K.’s coronavirus threat level to four — the second highest level — in light of the spread of omicron.

The U.K. recorded 48,854 new cases of Covid on Sunday, and cases are rising steadily after dipping briefly in November. For every 100,000 people in the country, 501 are currently infected, according to official data.

Some restrictions, including mask mandates in shops and instructions to work from home where possible, have been reintroduced in England throughout December.

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