British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Monday what might be the first known coronavirus death related to the new omicron variant.
“Omicron is producing hospitalizations and sadly at least one patient has now been confirmed to have died with omicron,” the prime minister said during a visit to a London vaccination clinic.
Johnson’s remarks were broadcast over television in the United Kingdom and several social media users tweeted the announcement.
“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 recognize the sheer pace at which it accelerates through the population,” the prime minister continued.
Health officials in the United Kingdom reported that infection rates due to the omicron variant had doubled every two to three days. Reportedly, the variant accounts for 40% of all COVID-19 cases in London.
In the United States, omicron has spread to about 30 states as well as D.C., where health officials have confirmed four cases.
In each of D.C.’s cases, the individual in question reported being fully vaccinated. Three had recently traveled outside of the United States.
Baltimore officials have identified three cases of the omicron variant, which the World Health Organization has referred to as a variant of concern.