Covid: Dominic Raab is wrong about Omicron hospital figures on Sky News
Dominic Raab made a huge blunder this morning when he falsely reported that 250 people had been hospitalized with Omicron – but then quickly reduced that number to nine, which was also incorrect.
The Deputy Prime Minister told Sky News: ‘Last time I saw it was in the hundreds, 250 the last time I looked, but of course the data is updating every time.”
But the politician, who also occupies the post of justice secretary, then backtracked massively.
In his next interview for the day, he told BBC Breakfast: “I know we have had one death. I think we have nine people who are hospitalized with it.
His new remarks also caused confusion as Sajid Javid confirmed that 10 patients were hospitalized with the new variant yesterday.
Authorities later confirmed that the actual number of people hospitalized with Omicron was 10, meaning Mr Raab massively inflated the figure.
Sky News political correspondent Kate McCann said: “I’m sure people will be happy to hear that it’s nowhere near as high as 250. We understand that Dominic Raab misunderstood or misheard the question.”
She added: ‘Of course 250 would be incredibly high – we know that’s the concern, the pressure on the NHS is the government’s concern and that’s why we’re talking about the potential for further restrictions and of course votes today.
“Obviously this is a big mistake and there will be people who heard this and thought ‘wow, that sounds a lot higher than I thought’.
There are now 4,713 confirmed cases of Omicron across the UK, although there are concerns that the actual number stands at 200,000.
Lateral flow testing is not available to order for the second day in a row, although the public is encouraged to test daily if they are in close contact with an infected person.
Boris Johnson is also facing the biggest rebellion of his tenure, with dozens of Tory MPs ready to vote against the latest Covid restrictions on Tuesday.
More than 70 backbenchers are threatening to challenge the whips and oppose the government’s Plan B for England.
Meanwhile, experts in South Africa, where the variant was found, have insisted that Omicron is producing a soft version of Covid.
Dr Angelique Coetzee, head of the South African Medical Association, said her country’s intensive care wards are not full and only one or two hospitals have reported an increase in admissions.
The prime minister dismissed claims that the variant is of little concern on Monday.
He said: “Unfortunately yes Omicron does produce hospitalizations and unfortunately it has been confirmed that at least one patient has died with Omicron.
“I think the idea that it’s kind of a milder version of the virus, I think it’s something that we have to put aside and just recognize the rate at which it is picking up in population. So the best thing we can do is get our boosters.
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