Dominic Raab in TV row with GMB host after blunder over Omicron hospital numbers

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  • Covid-19
    Covid-19
  • Dominic Raab
    Dominic Raab
    British politician (born 1974)

Watch: Dominic Raab accuses GMB of 'ranting at politicians' after Omicron numbers confusion

Dominic Raab has accused a TV presenter of “ranting at politicians” after he repeatedly made mistakes over the number of Omicron patients in hospitals.

The deputy prime minister and justice secretary gave conflicting answers about the figures across a series of media appearances on Tuesday morning.

On Monday, prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed the first death in the UK of someone with Omicron, while it was announced that there were 10 people in hospital with the variant.

However, Raab gave the wrong number twice in two separate broadcast interviews.

His mistakes in two previous interviews were put to him by ITV’s Good Morning Britain presenter Adil Ray.

When Ray interrupted, Raab replied: “Can I answer the question?

Read more: Will there be more COVID restrictions before Christmas?

Good Morning Britain presenter Adil Ray, left, questioned Dominic Raab, right, about his grasp of Omicron hospital numbers. (ITV)
Good Morning Britain presenter Adil Ray, left, questioned Dominic Raab, right, about his grasp of Omicron hospital numbers. (ITV)

“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.”

Raab had spread confusion by wrongly saying in an earlier interview on Sky News that there were 250 people in hospital with the Omicron variant of coronavirus. In fact, the latest figure is 10.

But, in a second interview, this time with BBC Breakfast, he said it was nine people in hospital with Omicron.

In the third TV interview on Good Morning Britain, Raab was challenged on the discrepancy by Ray.

Raab claimed he had misheard the question when it was put to him on Sky News.

He told GMB: “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-19 strains) run at 900.”

Initially, Raab told Sky News presenter Kay Burley that the number of people in hospital with Omicron was “significant”.

He said: “Last I saw it was in the low hundreds, 250 the last time I looked, but of course the data is being updated all the time.”

Minutes later, in the second interview, he told BBC Breakfast: “I know we’ve had one death. I think we’ve got nine people who are in hospital with it.”

In his interview with GMB, he finally said it was “10 at the moment”.

Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab accused an interviewer of 'ranting at politicians'. (ITV)
Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab accused an interviewer of 'ranting at politicians'. (ITV)

Read more: Covid passports could increase vaccine uptake, study suggests

The government has faced repeated criticism over how clearly it is communicating with the public. Earlier this week, Boris Johnson said in his TV address to the nation that all adults would be able to get a booster jab by the end of the year.

However, that conflicts with what the NHS has promised, which is to offer all adults the chance to book the vaccine.

There has also been significant confusion over whether people should, for example, feel comfortable attending Christmas parties, with the prime minister stating they should go ahead last Wednesday before cancelled his own work party days later.

The PM is also facing a rebellion from Tory MPs in the House of Commons later over its Plan B coronavirus measures, but Raab says rebels have “overstated” the issues.

He told Times Radio the mandatory use of COVID passes for entry to nightclubs and large venues in England was not a “big step or a slippery slope”.

Scores of Tory MPs are expected to vote against the government or abstain when the measures are put to the test in the Commons on Tuesday evening.

Watch: Dominic Raab repeatedly makes mistakes over hospital Omicron cases

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