Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

UK statistics watchdog rules Humza Yousaf’s child Covid claims ‘inaccurate’

NHS Tayside de-escalated
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf.

The UK statistics watchdog has ruled Humza Yousaf’s claims increasing numbers of children are in hospital because of Covid were “inaccurate”.

In a letter published online, the UK Statistics Authority told the SNP Government the claims were “inaccurately presented.”

The organisation accepted Scotland’s health minister made a “genuine mistake” but warned it should not have happened and ministers should be better briefed.

Mr Yousaf caused alarm across the country recently when he made the comments in a radio interview.

The issue arose when Mr Yousaf said 10 children aged nine or under were in hospital “because of Covid”.

A leading children’s doctor quickly refuted the claims and it later transpired the quoted figures included patients without any symptoms but who test positive on arrival or during stays.

Error ‘humiliating’

As first revealed in The Courier, the watchdog began scrutinising the minister’s use of data last week. 

Scottish Conservative health spokeswoman Annie Wells MSP said it was time for Mr Yousaf to finally apologise after the “humiliating slap-down.”

Ms Wells, who is the Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, said: “Top statisticians have confirmed his child Covid claims, which left thousands of parents worried for their kids’ safety, were inaccurate.

“It’s a disgrace that the SNP Government wouldn’t just come clean and admit Humza Yousaf got this wrong.

“Instead, they danced around questions about his dangerous scaremongering.

“The health secretary alarmed parents but once again, just like when he made false accusations of sectarian singing, he didn’t hold his hands up and admit the mistake.

“For once, Humza Yousaf should drop the arrogance, show some humility and finally apologise for getting this so badly wrong.”

Government slow to clarify

Shortly after the radio interview, the issue was raised again with Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

However Mr Swinney, who is also Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery, appeared to further fan the flames.

He suggested the virus could now be more dangerous to youngsters than earlier in the pandemic, causing huge alarm among parents and carers.

The Scottish Government’s own data, published two days after Mr Yousaf’s initial comments, showed the youngsters’ illnesses were not necessarily due to the coronavirus.

No clarification was made but Mr Yousaf later took to Twitter to express his “regret” at the alarm caused.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Health Secretary has already expressed his regret for any alarm his remarks may have caused – and the Statistics Authority has acknowledged this was ‘a genuine mistake’ made shortly after the Health Secretary had taken on his new role.

“The Scottish Government responded swiftly and published the figures quoted with clear definitions and notes to help understand the data.

“The Health Secretary was answering a question about whether a parent in level 2 should take their child to a soft play in level 1  and was simply highlighting the risks of people breaching Covid restrictions.

“The age group currently showing the second highest number of confirmed Covid cases is children under 14 – and we need to be extremely careful to avoid giving the impression that there is no risk to children from Covid.”


Already a subscriber? Sign in