- Sputnik International, 1920
Omicron COVID Strain
The new COVID variant was initially detected in South Africa and Botswana and sparked major concerns due to its high number of mutations (32). The WHO dubbed the strain Omicron and warned it may prove to be more transmissible and dangerous than other coronavirus variants.

Boris Johnson: At Least One COVID Omicron Death Confirmed in UK

© REUTERS / MAY JAMESAmbulances are seen in front of St Thomas' Hospital as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in London, Britain, December 12, 2021
Ambulances are seen in front of St Thomas' Hospital as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in London, Britain, December 12, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.12.2021
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The United Kingdom earlier raised its coronavirus alert level to four amid the rapid spread of the new Omicron variant in the country. Shortly afterwards, Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on Britons to receive their booster shots as soon as possible, as the UK is "now facing an emergency".
UK PM Boris Johnson said on Monday that at least one patient has been confirmed to have died after being infected with the Omicron coronavirus strain.
"Sadly yes Omicron is producing hospitalisations and sadly at least one patient has been confirmed to have died with Omicron", Johnson revealed during a visit to a vaccination clinic near Paddington. "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".
The prime minister underlined that "the best thing we can do is all get our boosters", echoing the sentiment he had when the COVID alert level in the United Kingdom was raised to four due to the spread of the Omicron strain.
Shortly after his announcement, the UK Health Security Agency confirmed that "10 people have been hospitalised with the Omicron variant in England" and "one individual diagnosed in hospital has sadly died."
On Sunday, Johnson sounded the alarm, saying that the UK is now "facing an emergency" as the new variant rips through the country. In order to tackle the new outbreak, the PM unveiled an ambitious vaccination plan. His new goal envisages everyone in England over 18 years old being eligible for a booster jab before the year's end.
FILE - In this Feb. 2, 2021 file photo, pedestrians wearing masks against coronavirus walk past an NHS advertisement about COVID-19 in London, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.12.2021
BoJo's Booster Plan: NHS Providers to Do Its Best to Deliver on Vaccinating Million People Per Day
In order to achieve this goal, Johnson said that 42 military teams would be deployed across every region to help the vaccination efforts. Aside from this, working hours in vaccination clinics will be extended and more appointments will be available.
Currently, some 3,137 Omicron cases have been confirmed in the UK, after a record 1,239 additional cases was registered on Sunday. Health Secretary Sajid Javid told Sky News earlier that "about 10" people have been hospitalised in the country over the new coronavirus strain.
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