Health

UK COVID-19 death toll exceeds 150,000 after omicron surge

Some 313 deaths within 28 days of a positive
COVID-19 test were reported on Saturday, taking the total number of fatalities
on this measure to 150,057.

A broader but less timely measure of deaths
with COVID-19 on the death certificate – which includes deaths early in the
pandemic when testing was limited – stood at 173,248 as of the last data on Dec
24.

“Coronavirus has taken a terrible toll on
our country and today the number of deaths recorded has reached 150,000,”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement. “Our way out of this
pandemic is for everyone to get their booster or their first or second dose if
they haven’t yet.”

Britain has seen a surge of cases linked to
the Omicron coronavirus variant in recent weeks, though death rates have been
lower than during previous infection waves.

The government has focused on rolling out
booster vaccinations – which have reached more than 60% of the population –
rather than requiring a return to the lockdown measures seen earlier in the
pandemic.

Some 1.227 million people tested positive for
COVID-19 during the past seven days, 11% more than the week before, while the
weekly number of deaths was up 38% on the week before at 1,271.

There are tentative signs the number of new
cases may have peaked, with 146,390 new cases reported on Saturday, down from
the record 218,724 recorded on Jan 4.

Britain’s cumulative death toll is the
second-highest in absolute terms in Europe, behind only Russia’s.

But on a per-head basis, the United States,
Italy, Belgium and several countries in eastern Europe have higher cumulative
death rates. Britain’s death rate is 7% higher than the European Union average,
according to figures collated by Our World in Data.

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