Do we know how many people have died of Omicron in England?

UPPER CHICHESTER,PA. January 4 : People stand in line at a pop up COVID-19 testing center outside Reliance Fire Company in Upper Chichester Tuesday Jan. 4, 2022. (PETE BANNAN - DAILY TIMES)  (Photo by Pete Bannan/MediaNews Group/Daily Times via Getty Images)
A pop up COVID-19 testing centre in Upper Chichester amid the Omicron wave. (Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has said the country is making "great progress" against the Omicron-driven wave of COVID cases.

The number of new cases reported daily in the UK fell for five days in a row to Sunday – but it is too soon to know if this means the surge has peaked.

The spread of the virus from children going back to school after the Christmas break or people returning to work after the new year has yet to become clear.

The latest figures from England show 17,120 people are in hospital with coronavirus, the highest since 15 February last year (17,730 patients), with 707 people requiring ventilation.

Omicron is less severe than previous variants, according to data, but the number of infections means significant numbers are still getting ill and dying.

Watch: Omicron hospital admission 90% less likely after booster - Sajid Javid

How many people have died of Omicron in England?

It is difficult to calculate the number of people who have died from Omicron as not every individual test is sequenced to find out which variant it is.

At the start of the Omicron outbreak, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) published daily situation reports saying how many confirmed Omicron deaths.

The most recent report on 31 December said there were 75 confirmed Omicron deaths but this is not the true number as these were only the cases sequenced.

The UKHSA stopped publishing Omicron situation reports on 31 December as the data showed these cases constituted more than 90% of all community infections in England.

However, due to the lag between people catching and dying from COVID, the exact number of deaths from Omicron is not available.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 07: Ambulance crew move patients at the Royal London Hospital on January 07, 2022 in London, England. By the New Year, nearly one in 10 NHS staff were off work with 50,000 at home either sick or self-isolating. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
The number of infections means significant numbers are still getting ill and dying. (Getty Images)

Looking at the number of new cases by specimen date – when a person actually tested positive, rather than when the case was reported – the rate of new cases has continued to increase in England with the country at a record 1,924.4 cases per 100,000 people.

On Monday, 115,998 new cases were announced in England, with 55 COVID-related deaths also recorded in the latest 24-hour period.

Read more:

COVID will be 'difficult' for next three months but 'end is in sight', says WHO

Omicron reinfections ‘rising rapidly’ in over 30s

The English areas with the worst booster vaccine take-up

Meanwhile, Johnson said he would cut the time COVID-19 cases have to spend in self-isolation if scientists recommend a reduction.

The Prime Minister said he would “act according to the science” on potentially reducing the time period to five days, a measure which could help deal with staff absences across the economy and public services.

Government ministers are also reportedly looking at scaling back free lateral flow tests.

Levelling up secretary Michael Gove said lateral flow tests will be free for “as long as we need”.

Watch: Lateral flow tests to stay free says minister amid reports they may be limited