UK Prime Minster Boris Johnson announced during a vaccination clinic in Paddington that at least one person who had the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has now died and that the variant is responsible for approximately 40% of all coronavirus infections in London.
Johnson told reporters and vaccine administrators at the Paddington event “Sadly, yes, Omicron is producing hospitalizations 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 recognize the sheer pace at which it accelerates through the population. So the best thing we can do is all get our boosters.”
Omicron “Spreads at a phenomenal rate”
Asked if he was planning to institute new coronavirus measures before Christmas, Johnson stated that he would not rule this out, adding “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.”
As the delta variant continues to sweep across the continent and much of the rest of the world, causing hospitals to scramble to find enough rooms for treatment, officials in the UK warned that non-urgent medical care in the NHS system may have to be canceled.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid had a stark warning about those who still remained unvaccinated, saying that there is another “huge challenge” facing health workers as they ramp up vaccinations once again. He said that the government aims to vaccinate as many as one million people every day, starting this week, in order to reach the stated goal of having all those over 18 get their booster by the end of 2021.
Johnson himself stunned the public when he stated to the press on Sunday evening that there could be a “tidal wave of Omicron” that could entail “very many deaths” across the UK.
That news comes as observers continue to note that the strain is indeed extremely fast-spreading although clinical evidence for the severity of the mutation has been hard to come by. The first physician to note the presence of the new mutation in South Africa observed only that it was “very mild” in her patients.
Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of the NHS Providers organization, told the BBC that the public must now “understand that waiting times might be longer, that routine care might not come at the time that they were expecting it.
“And also, unfortunately that, for example, operations may be cancelled and rescheduled, so it’s a really difficult situation. It’s a really challenging situation for the NHS front line.”
At the present time, the waiting list for treatment from doctors at the National Health Service is the longest it has ever been, currently counting more than six million individuals who are in need of help in England.
Health Secretary Javid explained to reporters from ITV News that the Omicron variant “spreads at a phenomenal rate; the number of infections is doubling every two to three days, and that means we’re in a new race, whether we like it or not, between the virus and the vaccine.”
However, no new across the board coronavirus restrictions are in the offing at the moment, he stated, other than the measure calling for the public having to produce proof of Covid status as a prerequisite for entrance into large venues. Legislation regarding that protocol will be introduced on Wednesday.
However, Javid stated that as a basic precautionary measure, individuals should take it upon themselves to get tested before attending large gatherings of any kind.