Omicron: At least one patient dead after getting Covid variant, Boris Johnson says

PM declines to rule out further Covid restrictions before Christmas

Adam Forrest
Monday 13 December 2021 12:54
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Boris Johnson says at least one patient has died from Omicron variant

At least one Covid patient in hospital has been confirmed to have died after contracting the omicron variant, Boris Johnson has said.

“Omicron is producing hospitalisations and sadly at least one patient has been confirmed to have died with omicron,” said the prime minister during a visit to a vaccination clinic in west London.

Mr Johnson repeatedly declined to rule out further Covid restrictions ahead of Christmas, as he warned the variant posed a risk to the NHS unless there was a huge expansion of booster jabs.

“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,” he said.

The PM said that omicron now represents about 40 per cent of Covid cases in London and warned that tomorrow “it’ll be the majority of the cases” in the capital.

Pressed on the possibility of further curbs before Christmas, Mr Johnson said: “Throughout the pandemic I’ve 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.”

He added: “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 ... we think that’s the right approach.”

Health secretary Sajid Javid said earlier on Monday that 10 people in England have now been hospitalised with omicron.

The PM repeated the government’s goal to “offer a booster” to every adult by the end of December. He has set the new deadline of getting everyone over 18 a booster by the end of the month – which would mean jabbing almost a million people every day.

The NHS booking system will be open for those over the age of 18 from Wednesday, though many will be able to use vaccination walk-in centres from today, as 42 military planning teams set up additional vaccine sites.

Mr Johnson insisted that there is still a “ready supply” of lateral flow tests in the UK, after the government’s own website said on Monday that “there are no more home tests available”.

The PM told broadcasters: “They can get those tests – we do have a ready supply of lateral flow tests. If you can’t get one online for any reason, then there are ample supplies in the shops.” He suggested that the website problems showed “people are doing the sensible thing and getting tests as well.”

It comes as the NHS booking site has been hit with technical problems amid a rush of 100,000 people booking their booster jabs on Monday morning.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson warned Conservative MPs thinking of rebelling against plan B measures at a crucial Commons vote on Tuesday that they had to recognise there was “no room for complacency” in dealing with omicron.

“We have the vaccines, our position remains incomparably better than it was last year. And I hope that people will also understand – colleagues in Westminster, around the country – will also see that the measures we’re putting in place are balanced and proportionate.”

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