The UK has become the seventh country in the world to record over 150,000 Covid deaths as Boris Johnson notes "terrible toll".

Official figures have revealed that 150,000 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 in the UK.

A scientist who has been advising the Government reported that the UK passed the total on Saturday, January 8 when an additional 313 deaths were announced.

The total was described as an “absolute tragedy” made worse because “many of them were avoidable if we had acted earlier in the first and second wave”.

The UK has reported a total of 150,057 deaths, making it the seventh country to surpass the milestone after the US, Brazil, India, Russia, Mexico and Peru.

However, separate figures from the Office for National Statistics say that there have been 174,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Professor Andrew Hayward, who sits on the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme: “It is absolutely tragic and to think that’s been repeated so many times is awful.

“I think we could have done better. I think some of the deaths are even more tragic for the fact that many of them were avoidable if we had acted earlier in the first and second wave.”

The new deaths were announced as the NHS continues to face significant strain from the Omicron variant and record-high cases, though death rates are not nearly as sharp as earlier in the pandemic because of vaccines and the new strain being believed to be milder.

In the 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.”

Another 146,390 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus have also been recorded.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: “This is a terribly sad milestone for our country. Every life lost has left many more hearts broken.

“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.”

Earlier a warning was issued over the “concerning” rates of Omicron in England’s North East and North West as concerns continued over NHS staffing levels.

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 and Cleveland (846.8 to 2,564.3).

NHS England data has shown 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).

According to the Health Service Journal (HSJ), staff absences across the entire NHS, including mental health trusts and other areas, for any reason including Covid-19, could be as high as 120,000.

There are about 9,300 armed forces available on standby in total.

As well as the 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.