Uk Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said at least one person infected with Omicron had died, as the country began an ambitious booster program against the variant.
“Sadly, at least one patient has been confirmed to have died with Omicron,” Johnson, who on Sunday warned of a “tidal wave” of infection from the mutation, told reporters
Visiting a vaccination center in London, Johnson congratulated those getting shots and handed out stickers before telling reporters that a patient had died from Omicron which he said could overcome those inoculated with two shots.
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“Sadly at least one patient has now been confirmed to have died with Omicron,” Johnson said.
“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.”
Asked repeatedly if he could rule out tougher restrictions in England before Christmas, Johnson meandered away from giving a direct answer.
Johnson said there was a spike in Omicron cases in London, with Health Secretary Sajid Javid saying the variant was spreading at a “phenomenal rate”.
Johnson, who is grappling with a rebellion in his party over measures to curb Omicron and an outcry over parties at his Downing Street office during last year’s lockdowns, said people should rush to get booster vaccines to protect “our freedoms and our way of life”.
After COVID-19 was first detected in China in late 2019, he faced criticism for initially resisting lockdown.
He has also been criticized for overseeing mistakes in transferring patients into care homes, and for building a costly test-and-trace system that failed to stop a deadly second wave.
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Johnson has repeatedly said that while mistakes were made, the government was making decisions swiftly in the biggest public health crisis for generations and that his government was quick to roll out vaccines.
More than 146,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United Kingdom.