774, or MAYBE 11? Another Minister Can’t Remember Number of Omicron Cases in UK Hospitals

Pedestrians walk past an electronic billboard promoting Britain's National Health Service's (NHS) Covid-19 vaccine booster programme, in central London on December 15, 2021. - The UK government had set itself a target of giving everyone aged 18 and over in England a booster jab by the end of January. But …
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Another British minister has shown themselves unable to recall the number of Omicron cases in hospitals — presumably a matter of great importance, given government policy to lock the country down is justified by it — initially overestimating the real number over 70 fold.

UK Health Minister Gillian Keegan tied herself up in knots on Thursday morning over the number of Omicron cases in the country’s hospitals, initially giving a number over 70 times larger than her next guess.

The confusion comes after a similar incident involving another minister, Dominic Raab, who gave three different numbers that varied significantly during three separate interviews on Tuesday morning.

In an interview with Sky News’s Kay Burley, Keegan initially claimed that there were 774 people in UK hospitals with Omicron, before pausing for a moment and correcting herself.

“Oh sorry that’s total hospital, yeah, hospitalisations in the last seven days,” Keegan said. “With Omicron, there is ten cases, em, with Omicron. Maybe going up to 11, actually. That wasn’t confirmed yet, but I think it’s probably going up to 11.”

The minister also struggled to give one clear answer when asked about the number of deaths related to the new variant of the Chinese coronavirus.

“The deaths, em, were a hundred, and — ohh, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t have the actual figure,” Keegan said, before exclaiming: “Oh! [With] Omicron! Oh sorry! Sorry, Kay. No, we don’t have eh — we have one death, eh, with Omicron, so far.”

The minister also went on to say that she did not think that there was anyone suffering from Omicron on ventilators in the UK, but also urged for caution, asking the public to “make a sensible choice” regarding mixing with others. The danger the government claims Omicron poses to the country have been used to justify new lockdown measures, and to urge the public to voluntarily give up socialisation.

Minister Keegan isn’t the first government politician to get Covid numbers jumbled up this week.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab caused confusion on Tuesday after giving three different numbers for how many Omicron cases were in UK hospitals during three different interviews.

Initially, Raab claimed that there were 250 cases of Omicron in hospitals during an interview on Sky News, but significantly revised that number downward to nine during a later interview with the BBC that same morning.

When confronted on the issue during the third interview on Good Morning Britain, Raab revised his figure again to ten, claiming that he misheard the question during the initial Sky News interview, and that he was giving a number more “generally”.

Meanwhile, officials told Sky News that the minister had actually “misspoke” during the first interview, and confirmed that the actual number of Omicron cases in hospital at the time was indeed ten.

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