Dominic Raab claims 250 Britons have been hospitalised with Omicron

So is it 250, 10 or 9, Dominic? Raab claims total number of Britons hospitalised with Omicron is 25 TIMES higher than true toll before back-tracking amid transparency row over variant data

  • Dominic Raab mistakenly claimed 250 people were in hospitalised with Omicron
  • He later said nine people were in hospital with the more transmissible strain
  • The UKHSA said 10 people were hospitalised by yesterday and 250 is ‘incorrect’

A transparency row over No10’s handling of Omicron data deepened today as Dominic Raab claimed 250 people were in hospital with the variant — before correcting the figure to just nine.

The Government was heavily criticised yesterday for announcing the first Omicron death without revealing the person’s age, condition, vaccination status or whether Covid was the primary resaon.

Asked how many people were hospitalised with the super strain during a round of interviews this morning, the Justice Secretary Mr Raab said the figure was ‘in the low hundreds, I think 250 the last time I looked’. 

But 15 minutes later, in a separate interview, Mr Raab said: ‘I think we’ve got nine people who are in hospital with it.’

A spokesperson for the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) told MailOnline 10 Omicron-infected people had been admitted to hospital as of yesterday and the 250 figure is ‘an incorrect one.’  

Last night, doctors warned MailOnline that the Government was causing ‘unnecessary alarm’ with its Omicron statistics after announcing the first Omicron death.  

Health Secretary Sajid Javid caused even more confusion in the Commons yesterday when he claimed that 200,000 Covid infections per day, 20 per cent of which were Omicron. 

The UKHSA later said that there were 200,000 Omicron infections alone, which puts the country on track to have an astronomical 1million-plus Omicron cases per day by next week.

Asked how many people were hospitalised with the super strain, the Justice Minister told Sky News the figure was ‘in the low hundreds, I think 250 the last time I looked’. But 15 minutes on BBC Breakfast, Mr Raab said ‘I think we’ve got nine people who are in hospital with it’

The UK Covid alert level was raised from level 3 to level 4 after the UK reported another 1,239 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant 

Britain’s booster drive was thrown into chaos yesterday after barely a tenth of Britons were able to get jabbing appointments.

NHS England’s chief executive Amanda Pritchard said more than 4.4million people had logged onto the NHS booking website desperate to secure a top-up shot, but only 545,000 were able to secure appointments after it crashed.

GPs complained today that they had already run out of stocks for their walk-in clinics, after being left with less than 24 hours to order enough doses for all patients. They were given until 9am to place orders for jabs.

And thousands of Britons are again standing in queues outside jabbing centres, which yesterday stretched to up to five hours long.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab acknowledged there were ‘teething problems’ with rolling out boosters after the drive was thrown open to all UK adults. He said it would take ‘a few days’ to ramp up deliveries. 

UK Government scientists estimate there are already more than 200,000 people infected with the Omicron Covid variant in the UK, more than 40 times the official tally of 4,713 cases. And that it has already spread across the country. 

NHS leaders warned last night that Boris Johnson’s ‘booster or bust’ deadline on December 31 is setting the health service up for ‘failure’. 

Discussing Omicron hospitalisations on Sky News this morning, Mr Raab said: ‘The last I saw was in the low hundreds, I think 250 the last time I looked.

‘But of course the data is being updated all the time.’

He added: ‘The problem is the rate at which it is transmitting and if that continues we will see those numbers increase very dramatically. 

‘Then we know a proportion of those hospitalised will possibly die or have a very serious suffering of the omicron variant.’

Appearing on BBC Breakfast, the Justice Secretary said: ‘I know we’ve had one death. I think we’ve got nine people who are in hospital with it or still at a relatively low number and we’re tracking that very carefully, but the data is shifting all the time.’

But a spokesperson for the UKHSA said 10 people had been admitted to hospital with the Omicron variant as of yesterday.

They added: ‘This is people who were diagnosed with Omicron before or upon being admitted to hospital. The 250 figure is an incorrect one.’

And a Ministry of Justice spokesperson said they ‘don’t know where’ the number came from. 

Latest UKHSA data shows 54,661 daily Covid infections were recorded yesterday, while 1,576 Omicron cases were confirmed, bringing the UK total to 4,713.

In a third interview this morning, Mr Raab clarified there were 10 Omicron hospitalisations when he was quizzed over the confusion  on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

After being interrupted, he said: ‘Can I answer the question? I understand you like ranting at your politicians in the morning but can I answer the question because it’s a fair challenge and I want to answer it.

‘First of all, I misheard one of the questions around whether it was hospitalisations of Omicron-related patients or more generally, but the figures are: one death from Omicron, 10 in hospital, and I can tell you the latest daily hospitalisations (for all Covid strains) run at 900.’ 

The vast majority of Omicron infections have been confirmed in England (4,487), followed by Scotland (186), Wales (30) and Northern Ireland (10). 

It comes after medics hit out at the lack of information shared around the UK’s first Omicron death.

Boris Johnson revealed the UK’s first death due to Omicron on a visit to a vaccination clinic in Paddington, west London.

He said: ‘Sadly yes Omicron is producing hospitalisations and sadly at least one patient has been confirmed to have died with Omicron.’

Mr Johnson did not reveal the age of the person who died, or if they had underlying health conditions, which made them vulnerable, or whether Omicron was the leading cause of their death or a secondary factor. 

The death in the UK is thought to be the first confirmed Omicron fatality in the world. 

However, given the variant makes up almost every case in South Africa it is likely that the vast majority of fatalities there are due to the mutant strain but a lack of testing means these are not picked up.  

Pictured above is the current pace of the booster programme (green bars) and how it will have to ramp up to hit the million jabs a day target (red bars). NHS bosses warn scaling up the programme will be ‘incredibly difficult’

Professor of medicine and consultant oncologist Karol Sikora said the Government should release more details about the death to put people’s minds at ease.   

‘Have they had booster? Are they elderly?,’ he said.  

‘There are all sorts of nuances to this thing, and we’re not being given proper information.’

He added that given the average age of Covid fatalities in the UK, and that the individual may have died while being infected with Omicron, as opposed to because of the variant, there was no reason to panic and the Government should calm fears rather than stoke them. 

‘The average age of death of Covid is 82.5 so a lot of 82-year-old people die in a year, at any one time,’ he said.

‘No details have been released, I suspect it’s just some old boy that’s tested positive, he may have died in his sleep or with a heart attack, who knows?

‘It is unnecessarily alarming.’

Professor Sikora said his suspicion is that the silence regarding whether the person was vaccinated or not indicated to him that the person died of another cause while they had Omicron. 

‘I suspect that it’s a death, which is unfortunate, but is due to something else, and it just happens to be Covid positive that’s why they’re not making a big noise  about them being vaccinated or not,’ he said. 

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