BUNGLING Dominic Raab today claimed 250 Brits are in hospital with Omicron – before correcting himself and admitting the real number is just nine.
The red-faced deputy PM was forced to backtrack in the space of just a few minutes after his hugely overinflated number was called out.
But even then he didn’t get it right, and only on a third attempt finally clarified there are actually 10 people hospitalised by the new variant.
Mr Raab was sent out onto the airwaves to plug the Government’s booster programme and defend the new restrictions to battle Omicron.
Asked on Sky News how many people were in hospital with the strain, he replied that it was “250 the last time I looked”.
The figure given yesterday by health secretary Sajid Javid was 10, eating that would have represented a 2,400% increase in admissions overnight.
In a follow-up interview on the BBC, the deputy PM was asked the same question and said: “I think we’ve got nine people in hospital with it.”
Finally, in a third grilling on ITV, he stated: “It’s 10 at the moment.”
The Government clarified that 10 is the correct number, and there has been one person who has died after testing positive for Omicron.
Mr Raab said he had “misheard” the original question on Sky, although it is unclear where he got the 250 number from.
He said: “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 run at 900.”
The embarrassing slip up comes just hours what is expected to be an enormous Tory rebellion over the imposition of vaccine passports.
Up to 100 backbench MPs and even some ministerial aides are expected to vote against the PM in a major challenge to his authority.
Some have said the dangers from Omicron are being overstated amid evidence from South Africa that it causes milder disease.
The Government says that even if that’s the case, the new variant’s huge transmissibility means it could still overwhelm the NHS.
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