Government figures showed that the official death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK rose to more than 150,000 on Saturday, after a record wave of cases caused by the variant Omicron.
313 deaths were reported within 28 days of positive COVID-19 testing on Saturday, bringing the total number of deaths under the measure to 150,057.
A broader 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.
“The coronavirus has taken a heavy toll on our country, with the death toll today reaching 150,000,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement. “Our way out of this pandemic is for everyone to get a booster shot or their first or second dose if they haven’t done that yet.”
Britain has seen an increase in the number of cases linked to the omicron virus variant in recent weeks, although death rates have been lower than during previous waves of infection.
The government has focused on rolling out booster vaccines – which have reached more than 60% of the population – rather than demanding a return to the lockdown measures seen previously in the pandemic.
1.227 million people tested positive for COVID-19 in the past seven days, up 11% from the previous week, while the weekly death toll was up 38% from the previous week at 1,271.
There are early signs that the number of new cases may be peaking, with 146,390 new cases reported on Saturday, down from the record set on January 4 of 218,724.
Britain’s cumulative death toll is the second highest in absolute terms in Europe, after only Russia.
But on a per capita basis, the United States, Italy, Belgium, and several countries in Eastern Europe have higher GMRs. Britain’s death rate is 7% higher than the European Union average, according to figures compiled by Our World in Data.