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LONDON, Jan.8 (Reuters) – The official death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK topped 150,000 on Saturday, government figures showed, following a record spate of cases caused by the Omicron variant.
Some 313 deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test were reported on Saturday, bringing the total number of deaths on that measure to 150,057.
A broader but less timely measure of deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate – which includes deaths at the start of the pandemic when testing was limited – stood at 173,248 as of the last data on December 24.
“The coronavirus has wreaked havoc in our country and today the number of recorded deaths 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 already.”
Britain has seen an increase in the number of cases linked to the Omicron coronavirus variant in recent weeks, although death rates have been lower than in previous waves of infection.
The government has focused on rolling out booster vaccinations – which have reached over 60% of the population – rather than demanding a return to the lockdown measures seen earlier in the pandemic.
Some 1.227 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past seven days, 11% more than the previous week, while the weekly death toll was up 38% the previous week to 1,271.
There are tentative signs that the number of new cases may have peaked, with 146,390 new cases reported on Saturday, up from the record 218,724 recorded on January 4.
Britain’s cumulative death toll is the second highest in absolute terms in Europe, behind Russia.
But on a per capita 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 compiled by Our World in Data.
Reporting by David Milliken, editing by Timothy Heritage and Mark Potter
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