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Coronavirus Fact-Check #14: No, 500 Children were NOT admitted to hospital with Covid this week. The press are reporting “worrying” figures in the headlines, but admit they are meaningless in the body of the text. One of the older tricks in the book.

Two days ago Sky News reported that, in the week from December 20th to Boxing Day (December 26th, for our non-UK readers), over 500 British children had been admitted to hospital with Covid19.

the story has been picked up by other outlets too, with the Metro headlining:

More than 500 children admitted to hospital with Covid in Christmas week

The Mirror went with:

More than 500 children admitted to hospital with Covid in week leading up to Boxing Day

Going on to say [our emphasis]:

A record number of new Covid infections were reported today with the easily transmissible Omicron strain being named as the driving force for the surge – now the variant is having an unprecedented impact on Britain’s younger population

Other publications cited “concerning data” that 50 babies had been admitted to hospital with Covid on Christmas day alone.

But is any of this true?

In short, no. It is a meaningless number created by deliberately misleading statistical definitions.

This is actually the easiest fact-check we’ve ever done, because Sky literally fact-checked themselves in their own subheading:

Let’s repeat that with some added emphasis:

The definition used to identify a hospital admission with coronavirus is that someone either tested positive for the virus in the 14 days before their admission, or during their stay in hospital. It could mean someone goes into hospital for a non-COVID reason and later tests positive.

So no, 512 children were not admitted to hospital for Covid infection, 512 children were admitted to hospital for potentially “non-COVID reasons”, and either tested positive while they were in hospital or had tested positive sometime in the previous two weeks.

We’ve gone over this many times before.

The official definition of a “Covid death” is death by any cause, in someone who tested positive in the month preceding their death.

The official definition of a “covid hospitalisation” is anyone who is admitted to hospital for any reason after testing positive, or tests positive while they are already in hospital for something else.

We don’t need to explain, yet again, how meaningless the resultant statistics will be if you use these definitions.

But if they keep lying about the figures, we will keep correcting them.