At least one person has been reported to have died in the United Kingdom of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, which would be the first fatal case for the new, milder strain.
Sadly at least one patient has now been confirmed to have died with Omicron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday during a press conference at a vaccination center in London.
I think the idea that this is somehow a softer version of the virus is something that we have to leave aside, Johnson added as he highlighted the pace at which COVID-19 has spread lately.
Authorities insisted on the importance of people getting their booster dose of vaccines as the alert level was raised from 3 to 4.
At the same time, it was not disclosed whether the patient had been been vaccinated or had underlying health issues. Deaths from Omicron may have occurred in other countries but none has been publicly confirmed yet outside Britain.
According to British health officials, 10 people had been hospitalized with the Omicron variant nationwide, aged between 18 and 85. Most of them have received two vaccination doses.
Omicron is believed to be able to outpower the immunity of those who have had two shots of AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech.
South Africa's health ministry said it was unable to say with certainty if any of its COVID-19 deaths were caused by Omicron as deaths were not broken down by variant.
Johnson is now under criticism for celebrations at 10 Downing Street apparently in breach of social distancing measures. He had been criticized earlier in 2020 for resisting lockdown as well as for many other measures during the pandemic.
He admitted 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.
With over 146,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in the United Kingdom, Johnson's approval ratings keep sinking fast. An Ipsos MORI survey for The London Evening Standard newspaper showed opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer's ranking was 13 percentage points ahead of Johnson, the first time a Labour leader had been viewed as a more capable prime minister since 2008.
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