NICOLA Sturgeon has stressed nobody in the Scottish Government "is trying to alarm people" after her Health Secretary was criticised for claiming 10 young children had been hospitalised “because of Covid”. 

Humza Yousaf said he never meant “to cause undue alarm amongst parents” when he used the figure on Wednesday to warn against travelling to councils where soft play areas are open.

It later emerged the claim was not backed up by data.

The Scottish Tories said his comments were "a terrible example of scaremongering during a health crisis". 

Addressing the issue at a Scottish Government coronavirus briefing, Ms Sturgeon said Mr Yousaf had misspoken.

She said: "What the Health Secretary was trying to say is nothing is without risk, and that applies to children as it does to adults.

"Nobody in the Government is trying to alarm people. 

"We spend almost everyday trying to do the opposite, to give people the best assessment of risk that we possibly can, without alarming people."

Ms Sturgeon said the risk to children is "very low", but added: "We wouldn't have soft plays still closed in a certain level – Level Two – if we didn't think there was any risk to that."

She urged people not to travel to Level One areas to do things they cannot do in Level Two areas. 

The First Minister said Mr Yousaf was "absolutely not seeking to alarm anybody". 

She said: "Humza answered a question about – should a parent in Level Two take their kid to soft play in Level One. 

"It was in the context of that question that he was making the point, with reference to the small number of children in hospital, that it isn't the case that there's no risk to children in the course of this, and he used a word that was not the correct word to use there.

"Nobody meant to do that. We're trying to give people the best assessment of the risks as we possibly can, to allow people as far as possible, within all the rules that are set, to make the best judgments."

Appearing on the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme on Wednesday, Mr Yousaf had claimed: "When I look at the hospital data for last week there were 10 young children, 0-9 years old, who were hospitalised because of Covid."

He also said travelling from a Level Two area to a soft play facility in a Level One area “could lead to hospitalisation of children”.

Covid hospital admission statistics show 10 children up to the age of nine were in hospital between May 24 and 30.

However this includes those who may have been hospitalised for unrelated reasons before testing positive.

Dr Steve Turner, registrar for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “Our experience over the last 15 months is that many children who test positive have come into hospital for something else, like broken bones. At the moment the situation in the UK is stable.

“The number of children in hospital with Covid remains very low. Children’s wards are not seeing a rise in cases with Covid. Parents shouldn’t worry.”

Yesterday, Mr Yousaf said: "My main message was to urge caution, not to cause any undue alarm, I regret if that was the case."