'Terrible toll': UK coronavirus deaths pass 150,000

8 January 2022, 17:57 | Updated: 8 January 2022, 23:09

The UK's official coronavirus death toll has passed 150,000
The UK's official coronavirus death toll has passed 150,000. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

More than 150,000 people have now died within 28 days of a positive Covid test since the start of the pandemic.

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A further 313 deaths were reported in the Government's daily data on Saturday, bringing the total to 150,057.

The UK is the seventh country to pass the total, following the US, Brazil, India, Russia, Mexico and Peru.

However, the number of deaths where Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate stands at 173,248.

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Boris Johnson recognised the "terrible toll" the virus has taken on the UK while encouraging people to get a booster jab.

In a tweeted statement, the Prime Minister said: "Coronavirus has taken a terrible toll on our country and today the number of deaths recorded has reached 150,000.

"Each and every one of those is a profound loss to the families, friends and communities affected and my thoughts and condolences are with them.

"Our way out of this pandemic is for everyone to get their booster or their first or second dose if they haven't yet."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said described it as a "dark milestone for our country".

"Our thoughts are with all those who have lost someone, and we thank everyone supporting the vaccination effort," he tweeted.

"We must ensure the public inquiry provides answers and that lessons are learned."

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said "every life lost has left many more hearts broken", adding: "We owe it to those who’ve lost their lives and those who miss them to ask what could have been done differently and to learn lessons from the inquiry."

Jo Goodman, a co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign, said the death toll as "yet another indictment of the Government's handling of the pandemic".

She said: "We didn't need to be here and bereaved families and the rest of the country need answers as to how we have suffered one of the highest global death tolls.

"This is ever more urgent as deaths from the Omicron variant continue to surge, with little apparently being done to address this. The public inquiry cannot begin its work soon enough."

The Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement: "Every death from this virus is a tragedy and our sympathies are with everyone who has lost loved ones.

"We are thankful for the collective national effort and the hard work of frontline health and social care staff and volunteers for administering vaccines to tens of millions of people and keeping people safe. Their tireless efforts have saved thousands of lives."

The statement added "the pandemic is not over", before encouraging people to come forward for first, second and booster jabs.

It comes as a further 146,390 Covid cases were also reported today.

There has been a worrying increase in cases of the Omicron variant in the North East and North West of England as concerns grow over healthcare staffing and a spike in hospital admissions.

Figures showed that three of the five UK areas with the biggest week-on-week rises in Covid case rates are Middlesbrough (748.8 to 2,651.4), Copeland (1,731.3 to 3,525.8) and Redcar & Cleveland (846.8 to 2,564.3).

Meanwhile, in the Midlands, Northamptonshire leaders declared a system-wide major incident on Friday due to Covid-19.

Cases in London appear to be slowing down, but scientists need more time to see if this continues.

The armed forces are stepping in to fill a staffing crisis in the NHS caused by the rapid spread of the variant.

NHS England data shows 39,142 NHS staff at hospital trusts in England were absent for Covid-19 reasons on January 2, up 59% on the previous week (24,632) and more than three times the number at the start of December (12,508).

As well as a staffing crisis, hospitals are also facing the highest number of admissions from coronavirus since last February.

A total of 18,454 people were in hospital in the UK with Covid-19 as of January 6, Government figures show. This is up 40% week on week and is the highest number since February 18, 2021.

During the second wave of coronavirus, the number peaked at 39,254 on January 18 2021.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised the Government against giving a second booster dose, or fourth jab, to care home residents and those aged over 80, after figures showed it is 90% effective against admission to hospital.

Experts are looking to prioritise the rollout of the first booster dose, as well as encouraging unvaccinated people to come forward for their jabs.