United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson says at least one person in the UK has died with the Omicron coronavirus variant.
Prime Minister Johnson said the new variant was also resulting in hospital admissions and the “best thing” people could do was get their booster jab.
Visiting a vaccination clinic in London, he said people should set aside the idea Omicron was a milder variant. Yesterday, the PM set a new target for all adults in England to be offered a booster by the end of the month.
Speaking during a visit near Paddington, west London, the PM said, “Sadly yes, Omicron is producing hospitalisations and sadly at least one patient has been confirmed to have died with Omicron. 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 recognise the sheer pace at which it accelerates through the population.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid today said 10 people were in hospital in England with the Omicron variant.
The booster rollout has been accelerated in response to Omicron, after early analysis suggested two doses of a COVID vaccine were not enough to stop people catching the variant.
Analysis by the UK Health Security Agency found however, a third booster dose gives around 70% to 75% protection against symptomatic infection with Omicron.
The government said, the NHS website crashed on Monday after more than 100,000 people tried to book their booster.
There have also been long queues at walk-in centres and lateral flow test kits are unavailable on the government website after a rush to order them.
From tomorrow, people who are fully vaccinated will be advised to take daily tests if they are identified as a contact of someone who has COVID.
Online bookings for boosters opened for over-30s yesterday, while 18 to 29-year-old will be able to book online from Wednesday.
Over-18s can now also get their booster at some walk-in centres in England – as long as it has been three months since their second dose.
Earlier, the Health Secretary said the UK was in a “race between the virus and the vaccine” and the NHS would be focusing on urgent appointments for a few weeks, with non-urgent treatment potentially delayed until the new year.
Data suggests Omicron is more transmissible than previous variants, with cases doubling in the UK every two to three days.
The UK’s COVID alert level has been raised to level four – which means a high or rising level of transmission – for the first time since May due to the spread of Omicron.
More than half a million booster jabs and third doses were given in the UK on Saturday, the second day that has happened since the booster rollout began.