Officials have corrected Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab after he erroneously claimed on Sky News this morning that 250 people were currently in UK hospitals infected with the Omicron variant.
The government has since clarified there were only 10 cases reported in hospitals on Tuesday morning.
Raab was taking the government’s media rounds on Tuesday morning, defending its highly controversial Plan B restrictions as a “targeted and proportionate approach”.
When pressed for exact figures about hospitalisations, the Deputy Prime Minister said: “Well 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 of the time.”
The claimed figures were highly surprising, as health secretary Sajid Javid told the channel “about 10” people were in hospital with the new variant – suggesting an incredible level of infectiousness.
Raab attempted to clarify his remarks in a later interview on BBC Breakfast.
He said “I know we’ve had one death. I think we’ve got nine people who are in hospital with it.”
This was also incorrect, with officials suggesting to Sky News that he “misspoke” on both occasions.
MPs are set to vote on the proposed new restrictions today, including the compulsory use of Covid-19 passes – dubbed “vaccine passports” – at large gatherings.
The Spectator has compiled a list of confirmed rebels which currently includes 82 Tory MPs.
Nevertheless, the measures are highly likely to get through as Labour are backing the plans.
Raab also encouraged people to get a booster jab with the government is pushing to offer every adult a vaccine booster before the end of the year.
In attempt to console government critics, he said there is “no plan” for further restrictions after Christmas.
Instead, he said “the plan is for Plan B, coupled with the vaccine”.
However, there are already reports of a potential “Plan C” approach with tighter measures in the New Year as scientific advisers push for more measures to stop the spread.
With the government previously indicating it had no plans for vaccine passports, it is unclear how definitive any statements made by the Deputy PM may be.