The speed at which the Omicron variant has been ripping through the population in the United Kingdom is unprecedented. In London alone, the variant is responsible for more than 40% of the infections, and it’s reportedly ‘doubling every two to three days’ says Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
‘Accelerating through the population’
On Monday (13 December), Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the situation while on a visit near Paddington in west London and confirmed that it was having a considerable impact on the healthcare system. He stressed that while data does suggest that the variant is ‘milder’ than the others, the rate at which it is infecting the population is making it incredibly difficult to control. He said:
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.
Death by Omicron
Furthermore, he confirmed that ‘at least one’ person in the UK has died from the Omicron variant. He added:
Sadly yes, Omicron is producing hospitalisations and sadly at least one patient has been confirmed to have died with Omicron.
This is the first reported death by the Omicron variant in the United Kingdom, but no other details about the case have been revealed so far.
Given the increasingly dire situation, Johnson has refused to rule out the possibility of bringing backstrict restrictions to curb the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant. Authorities have even raised the UK's coronavirus alert level from three to four—indicating that the transmission levels are ‘high or rising exponentially.’