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New figures have revealed that more than 1.4 million people in the UK had coronavirus in the week ending December 16.
The data comes from the Office for National Statistics and represents the highest number of coronavirus cases since similar figures began in the autumn of 2020.
A total of 1,202,300 people in England are reported to have tested positive last week, equating to approximately one in every 45 people as cases soared across the North West, Yorkshire and The Humber, East Midlands, East of England, London and the South East.
Scotland also reported an increase in cases, with 76,200 people testing positive throughout the week.
The PM urged people to get their booster vaccines as he stressed the UK was ‘facing an emergency in our battle with the new variant Omicron’.
Speaking on December 12, he continued:
At this point our scientists cannot say that Omicron is less severe. And even if that proved to be true, we already know it is so much more transmissible that a wave of Omicron through a population that was not boosted would risk a level of hospitalisation that could overwhelm our NHS and lead sadly to very many deaths.
Early evidence indicates the Omicron variant is milder than previous COVID-19 variants, with estimates indicating a 30% to a 70% reduction in the number of people needing hospital treatment, however the rapid spread of the variant is still a cause for concern.
Per BBC News, Prof Mark Woolhouse, from the University of Edinburgh, explained: ‘An individual infection could be relatively mild for the vast majority of people, but the potential for all these infections to come at once and put serious strain on the NHS remains.’
Johnson announced an increase to the speed of the vaccine booster rollout in a bid to tackle increasing cases, stressing that ‘two doses of vaccine are simply not enough to give the level of protection we all need’.
All eligible adults in England can now access their first, second and booster jabs.
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