People should “make a sensible choice” if their priority is to make it to the Christmas dinner table with their families, a health minister has said – while not ruling out the possibility of more restrictions being imposed.
Gillian Keegan told Kay Burley that individuals should “take a different approach” if they want to “make it through to Christmas Day”.
Her comments come after England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty expressed caution about festive plans during a Downing Street news briefing on Wednesday evening, suggesting that it is “sensible” and is “going to become increasingly important” that people “prioritise” the social contact they most value and “deprioritise” other interactions.
Ms Keegan added that while the government is “not intending to make any more restrictions”, Prime Minister Boris Johnson “won’t hesitate to act” if the situation worsens.
The UK recorded its highest-ever number of coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with 78,610 registered in the last 24-hour period.
Ms Keegan was pressed on the latest hospitalisation figures for those with the new Omicron variant by Kay Burley on Thursday morning but became the second minister to get their figures wrong on Sky News this week.
COVID: Omicron variant multiplies 70 times faster than Delta in human lungs, study finds
COVID: Football fans say they’ll keep going to matches ‘for as long as we’re allowed’ – despite virus advice
COVID-19: Increasing number of Omicron patients going into hospital a ‘nailed on prospect’ Chris Whitty warns after UK coronavirus cases hit record high
The health minister said: “There is 774.”
When queried whether this was 774 people in hospital, a rise since the 10 reported hospitalisations on Wednesday, Ms Keegan clarified: “That is total hospitalisations in the last seven days. With Omicron there is 10 cases with Omicron… maybe going up to 11, actually.”
The dashboard containing the latest coronavirus data shows that 774 was the number of daily hospitalisations for 11 December.
On Tuesday, Deputy PM Dominic Raab told Sky News there were 250 people in hospital with the Omicron variant, before later revising his figure to nine on the BBC.
Officials later clarified that this was incorrect too, and there were in fact 10 people in hospital with the new variant on Tuesday morning.