London: More than 150,000 people have died after catching coronavirus in the United Kingdom, the government said Saturday, in a tragic milestone for one of the worst affected countries in Europe.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson posted a message on Twitter saying: "Coronavirus has taken a terrible toll on our country and today the number of deaths recorded has reached 150,000."
The government reported that deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID test had reached 150,057 since the start of the pandemic.
Russia is the only European country with a higher reported death toll, at almost 315,000.
In a tweet on a black background, Johnson said that "each and every one of those" who died "is a profound loss to the families, friends and communities affected and my thoughts and condolences are with them".
The number of daily reported cases in the UK surged to a record figure of more than 200,000 last week, but has subsided slightly in recent days with 146,390 cases reported in the last 24 hours.
The country has introduced new rules including compulsory wearing of face masks by school children during lessons, while Johnson resisted cracking down on social gatherings in England over the festive period.
The massive number of people testing positive or in self-isolation has hit staff numbers in all sectors including the state-funded health service, prompting the defence ministry to announce Friday that it will send troops in to assist staff in hospitals.
Hospitalisations and deaths are nevertheless far lower than in the first wave of the pandemic when people were unvaccinated.
The government is urging the public to get boosters, which have already been administered to around 61 percent of the population aged over 12. It is also seeking to persuade the unvaccinated to receive jabs.
"Our way out of this pandemic is for everyone to get their booster or their first or second dose if they haven't yet," Johnson said Saturday.