At least one person in the United Kingdom has died to the new COVID variant Omicron, says UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He said the idea that omicron was a milder variant should be set aside and confirmed that recent hospital COVID admissions in the UK were attributed to the new variant.
The PM said the omicron variant now represents 40% of COVID cases in London and warned that tomorrow ‘it’ll be the majority of the cases’ in the capital. Sajid Javid, Health Secretary, said that 10 people in England have now been hospitalized with omicron.
Despite growing number of cases, Johnson has declined to rule out further restrictions ahead of Christmas. In response to the Omicron variant, the government has backed the accelerated rollout of the booster shots. This comes after analysis showed that two doses of the COVID vaccine were not enough to stop people catching the new variant.
“Throughout the pandemic, I have been at great pains to stress to the public that we have to watch where the pandemic is going and we take whatever steps are necessary to protect public health,” PM Johnson said. “We think the steps that we are taking – so plan B, combined with a hugely ambitious acceleration of the booster campaign, bringing it forward by a month so we offer a booster to every adult by the end of the year – we think that’s the right approach.”
The Johnson-led UK government has no plans for further restrictions but has kept its options open. He told the media that MPs may not be consulted if further measures are needed to be brought in urgently. Reports say it may include an order for contacts of COVID cases to isolate, shutting hospitality venues or toughening the requirements for COVID passports for people to show either they have got boosters or lateral flows tests.