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PA Images UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson
# Boris Johnson
First death of patient with Omicron announced in UK, as Johnson faces into difficult week
The Omicron variant is set to become the dominant strain of coronavirus in London by tomorrow.

LAST UPDATE | Dec 13th 2021, 2:43 PM

BORIS JOHNSON IS facing perhaps the most difficult week since the start of his premiership.

As dissatisfaction on the Conservative backbenches has grown, the UK Prime Minister heads into the next few days against a backdrop of rebellion.

Meanwhile, the threat of the Omicron variant of coronavirus looms in the background.

The new variant is set to become the dominant strain of coronavirus in London, just weeks after it was first detected in the UK.

Johnson said the strain will be responsible for the majority of infections in the capital by tomorrow, and has warned of a “tidal wave” of cases across the country.

“We can see Omicron spiking now in London and some other parts of the country,” he said.

“Here, in the capital, it probably represents about 40% of the cases. By tomorrow, it will be the majority of the cases and it’s increasing the whole time.”

The UK Health Security Agency has previously projected that Omicron could become the dominant variant across the country by the middle of the month.

The prime minister announced earlier today that the first patient confirmed to have a case of the Omicron variant had died.

“Sadly yes Omicron is producing hospitalisations and sadly at least one patient has been confirmed to have died with Omicron,” said Johnson.

“So 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 recognise the sheer pace at which it accelerates through the population. So the best thing we can do is all get our boosters.”

Plan B

Johnson’s first big challenge comes tomorrow, as MPs are asked to approve the Plan B measures he has set out in a bid to stem the spread of Omicron.

Already, more than 70 of his own MPs have signalled they either will or are considering, opposing some of the plans.

Anger mainly centres on the introduction of Covid passes – where a person must prove their vaccination status or that they have had a negative test – for large venues.

However, the bad blood comes as Tory MPs have been left burned by their leader in recent weeks.

The standards row over former MP Owen Paterson left a sour taste in the mouths of many, as they felt they had been asked – and most obliged – to back the Government in a difficult position, only to be left embarrassed when ministers U-turned.

The resulting by-election in North Shropshire is on Thursday, and what should be a comfortable win for the Tories – Paterson had a majority of almost 23,000 – is now looking precarious.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said by-elections are sometimes used by voters to “send a message”.

An ill feeling has also been stirred up by the revelations of alleged parties held in Downing Street and elsewhere in Government during lockdown restrictions.

After denying any parties took place, Johnson has now asked Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to investigate and report back, with the Times suggesting the outcome could come as early as the end of the week.

The Conservative Party leader also faces allegations that he misled his ethics adviser over what he knew about a controversial refurbishment of his No 11 flat.

Amid all of that, Johnson is attempting to convince the country that it is essential to follow new coronavirus measures, as the Omicron variant threatens to put even more pressure on the NHS.

In an address to the nation on Sunday, the Prime Minister called the variant a “tidal wave”, and brought forward the deadline for offering booster jabs to all adults.

However, the question ministers continue to face in interviews is whether the public health messaging has been undermined by the Government’s – and Johnson’s – actions, and what that means for his future.

Press Association
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