Health Secretary Humza Yousaf “inaccurately presented” the number of children in hospital because of Covid, a statistical watchdog has said.

In a recent interview, Mr Yousaf said 10 children under the age of nine had been admitted to hospital between May 24 and 30 “because of Covid”.

However, it was later found the figures include children who tested positive for the virus in the two weeks before or even during their stay in hospital, meaning coronavirus may not have been the reason for the admission.

Mr Yousaf later said he “regrets” any alarm caused.

Ed Humpherson, director-general for regulation at the UK Statistics Authority, has now said in a letter to Scotland’s Chief Statistician Roger Halliday that the information was “inaccurately presented”.

Mr Humpherson said he accepts Mr Yousaf’s comments were “a genuine mistake” and praised the response from the Scottish Government to them.

But he stressed the importance of ministers being properly informed and any statistics quoted being made available.

He wrote: “By way of background, the figure used was not available publicly at the time the statement was made, and it was inaccurately presented.

“We were pleased to see that the figure used by the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care was published as part of an ad-hoc release which included an explanatory note to support any future interpretation.

“It is also encouraging to hear that Public Health Scotland is now working to publish data on the age ranges of those hospitalised on a more routine basis to meet public interest in these data.

“We would encourage as part of this work, if possible, to include if the admissions were because of Covid-19 or if the primary reason for admission to hospital was for something else.

“Whilst we understand that on this occasion it was a genuine mistake, which was quickly corrected, I would like to reiterate the importance of ensuring ministers are appropriately briefed and any figures referred to publicly must be made available.”