Elderly could be asked to drastically reduce social contact

STV political editor Colin Mackay reports from a media briefing with the First Minister this morning.

Coronavirus: Sturgeon says all UK governments working closely. Getty
Coronavirus: Sturgeon says all UK governments working closely.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says the UK governments are discussing social distancing proposals for over-70s which could advise them to greatly reduce their social contact.

On the future of mass gatherings, Nicola Sturgeon warned current guidance to cancel indoor and outdoor events of more than 500 people could be extended to lower figures in days to come.

Asked if her expectations were that the guidance would last for three to four months, she said: “For the foreseeable future, yes ,and potentially longer than that.” 

I asked if that meant we were “essentially looking at the end of the football season?” She answered: “Yeah.”

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She said her father was an avid Ayr Utd supporter and that football fans “understand the importance of doing the right thing here to protect the population”. She also made clear that the guidance covering gatherings of more than 500 could be extended to cover smaller gatherings in future.

On schools, the Scottish Government is not preparing to close all of them. Again, they point out that if they do, it could be for as long as three to four months.

The chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood said the scientific evidence is that children are “not very severely affected” by the coronavirus and are “not going to be hospitalised in large numbers”.

She said if it takes three months to suppress the the spread of the virus it would be impossible to stop young people gathering for that long, so closing schools would be ineffective.

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The First Minister said there would be ad-hoc closures like we are already seeing but added the Scottish Government is not ruling out a blanket approach at a later stage. She did promise to “give people as much notice as possible when schools are to close”.

On care homes, health secretary Jeane Freeman said she was in talks with councils who were looking at redeploying some of their staff to help out in the care sector. She also said NHS Scotland has ordered about 700 more ventilators to help treat the most serious cases of corona virus in hospitals.

One of the biggest changes right now is the way the government collects figures on the spread of the virus. So far, the numbers have been based on positive tests on people in hospital and showing symptoms of the virus.

From now they will still test anyone being treated in hospital but the daily figures will be estimates based on survey figures from 200 GP practices around Scotland.

Every year NHS Scotland does this sampling in 41 GP practices to estimate the spread of winter flu – that covers around 240,000 patients. Extending the number to 200 GP practices will increase the sample size to 1.2 million patients.

They won’t all be tested but samples will – it will work very much like opinion polling in elections. The First Minister believes it will give a much more accurate picture of the spread of the virus around Scotland than the previous system which may have underestimated numbers.

Firm numbers will still be given on deaths. Key NHS workers will also be tested for the virus to make sure they are fit to work on the frontline.

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On herd immunity, Nicola Sturgeon said it was not UK policy to achieve it. She said it would be a by-product of people getting the virus but the Scottish Government’s main aim is to reduce the impact of coronavirus and save lives.

Asked why the UK was not following the actions of other foreign governments in closing down schools, cafes and restaurants; the First Minister insisted she was following the scientific advice and said Scotland was already taking very significant steps in telling people with symptoms to stay at home for 7 days.

She said these are not easy judgements and this crisis is unprecedented and she is not ruling anything out.   

On a more positive note, the chief medical officer said she hopes there will be a vaccine against coronavirus by this time next year.

Senior school pupils told to wear face masks in classrooms

Parents will also wear face masks when dropping off and picking up children.

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Pupils in S4-S6 at schools across central Scotland and Dundee will have to start wearing face masks in classrooms.

The new guidance also applies to their teachers at schools in level three and four areas under the new Covid alert system beginning on Monday.

Parents, meanwhile, will have to wear face coverings at drop-off and pick up at all schools in Scotland.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the changes were being made in response to “updated scientific and health advice”.

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But the timing of the announcement was criticised by opposition politicians, while one parents group said the decision had been taken “on a whim”.

Under the new guidelines for levels three and four, teachers and senior pupils must also wear masks when moving around schools or in communal areas.

Level three includes Glasgow, Edinburgh the Lothians, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Dundee. No council areas are currently ranked in level four.

Meanwhile, adults in all schools must wear masks when they cannot keep more than two metres away from other staff, parents and pupils above P2.

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New guidance for staff and pupils in the shielding category is also being issued by the Scottish Government ahead of a new five-tier system of restrictions designed to control coronavirus coming into force at 6am on Monday.

Swinney, also the education secretary, said: “From Monday, there will be increased use of face coverings and new advice to help protect those in the shielding category.  

“It is vital that all the measures are followed rigorously in schools. Doing that – together with the collective efforts of all of us across wider society ­– will help to ensure that schools can safely remain open.”

Friday morning’s announcement was questioned by the Scottish Conservatives, who said it should have been debated in parliament.

Shadow education secretary Jamie Greene said: “Once again, significant Covid-19 restrictions are announced by the SNP government hours after parliament closes. Had they made this known on Thursday, this could have been properly debated.

“Parents across Scotland understood the guidance around staff wearing masks in schools, and older pupils wearing them in public areas, but the SNP has not explained why this latest move is necessary.

“Nor have they addressed legitimate concerns about pupils’ wellbeing, particularly for those with additional support needs.”

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Parents campaign group UsForThem Scotland said its members wanted to see scientific evidence to support the decision.

Organiser Jo Bisset said: “It will be incredibly uncomfortable for young people to spend several hours a day in a mask, and could impact on their learning and education.

“We have particular concerns about the impact it will have on vulnerable pupils and those with autism or hearing difficulties.

“All parents ask is that, when such significant decisions are taken, the reasons and evidence for it are backed up.”

She added: “Parents suspect this decision has been made on a whim, and is merely just the start of an escalation which will eventually see all pupils forced to wear masks.”

Teaching union the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) said it supported the use of face masks, but insisted social distancing was impossible in classrooms.

General secretary Larry Flanagan said: “The strengthening of the school guidance in a number of areas is a reflection of the greater risk posed by higher levels of community infection.

“Whilst the EIS supports the stronger advice in areas such as the use of face coverings and the critical need for adequate ventilation, we remain dissatisfied with the lack of specification on social distancing between pupils, which is exhorted but remains impossible to achieve in full classrooms.”

The council areas in level three are: Inverclyde, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, City of Glasgow, South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire, Stirling, Falkirk, Clackmannanshire, City of Edinburgh, Midlothian, West Lothian, East Lothian, Dundee City, North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire.


Coronavirus: 28 deaths and more than 1200 new cases

The latest daily figures have been confirmed by the deputy first minister.

Krisanapong Detraphiphat via Getty Images

Another 28 people with coronavirus have died in Scotland, as the country recorded more than 1200 new cases.

It brings the death toll under the measure of people who first tested positive within the previous 28 days to 2819.

The latest figures, which saw the country record 1281 new cases, were revealed by deputy first minister John Swinney on Friday.

Of the new cases, 496 were in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 258 in Lanarkshire, 194 in Lothian and 89 in Tayside. The remaining 244 cases were spread across seven health boards.

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There are 1170 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, 83 of whom are receiving treatment in intensive care.

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Child found near dead mum Mercy Baguma granted asylum in UK

Baby Adriel and his father, Eric Nnana, were granted asylum following Mercy's death in August.

Positive Action in Housing via
Asylum: Mercy's child and his father have been granted asylum in the UK.

A child who was found near his dead mother in her flat has been granted the right to stay in the UK.

Baby Adriel and his father, Eric Nnana, were granted asylum following the death of the child’s mother Mercy Baguma in August.

Mercy, who was originally from Uganda and seeking asylum in the UK, died in Glasgow in August. Her body was found in the hallway of her flat with Adriel discovered alone in his cot.

Mercy Baguma was living in extreme poverty and receiving food from charity.

At the time of her death, charity Positive Action in Housing (PAIH) said Ms Baguma, 34, had lost her job after her limited leave to remain in the country expired and she was no longer allowed to work.

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After living in extreme poverty, she claimed asylum and was relying on food from friends and charitable organisations.

On Friday, PAIH, which supports people from refugee and migrant backgrounds, said Prime Minister Boris Johnston had stepped in to intervene in the family’s case.

The charity said: “We are pleased to confirm that Eric Nnana and his son Adriel, aged one, have now been granted asylum in the UK 

‘Thank you to Prime Minister Boris Johnson for agreeing to intervene in the family’s case. 

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“Also to David Linden MP, Fraser Latta and Hannah Cosgrove of Latta & Co. who raised the family’s case following the tragic death of Adriel’s mother, Mercy Baguma.”


Therapy dog helps veteran with PTSD after death of son

Lyn the Golden Retriever has been a lifeline for Chris Buswell following the death of his son four years ago.

STV News

Four years ago Chris Buswell and his wife Karla received the devastating news that their 22-year-old son had died suddenly. 

The grief of losing their son sparked post traumatic stress disorder in Chris from his military service overseas. 

Soon he was in a downward spiral, struggling with poor mental health. 

However in May last year, his GP advised him to contact veteran charity Bravehound and soon a young Golden Retriever named Lyn came bounding into his life. 

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“Having Lyn has brought back fun and enjoyment into life, whereas before we were just living day to day,” Chris explains.

“Now I can look towards the future.”

Lyn brings comfort to Chris but she has also been trained to look after him. 

If she senses Chris is anxious she’ll give him a hug and she is also trained to take him away from overwhelming situations. 

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“She gives some amazing cuddles and she’s brought laughter again, which is really nice,” Chris says.

“I know that if I didn’t have her, I’d be in a really bad place mentally.

“Lyn’s probably the best therapy I can have.”

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Fiona MacDonald, founder of Bravehound, says their animals are trained to do a number of things but most importantly offer companionship.

“Our dogs are all very beautiful dogs and some of them are trained to do specific things like go and get medication, we have a wheelchair user and her dog will pick up anything she’s dropped.

“For all of [our users], it’s the companionship, it’s having a living being with you all the time and having to go out and about and being able to go out and about because you’ve got that confidence in having your dog with you.”

Chris and Lyn are now inseparable and he even jokes she is the main woman in his life now.

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“My wife calls her the mistress and we call my wife the other woman,” Chris laughs.

“She’s the main woman in my life!”


Storm Aiden to cause windy weekend across Scotland

Many parts of Scotland are set to be affected by Storm Aiden over the next couple of days.

Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images

Parts of Scotland are set to be battered by strong winds over the weekend.

Storm Aiden, named by the Irish met service, will see gale-force winds across the Inner Hebrides and Barra on Saturday morning.

By the afternoon, the Hebrides and northern isles – as well as coastal areas in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway – will see winds of between 45-55mph.

And they could hit 60mph in Orkney and the north-east of Scotland later on Saturday, STV meteorologist Sean Batty said.

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Storm Aiden is the first named storm of the 2020/21 season – coming five weeks earlier than last year.

While the winds will ease on Halloween night – except for the Northern Isles – they will pick up again on Sunday, with 60-70mph gusts possible in the far north and north-west of Scotland.

Sean said: “That’s where we see the main risk at the moment, but these stronger winds could extend further south as the computer models firm up on the details and I’d urge those concerned to stay updated on forecasts throughout the weekend.”

Ferry disruption is likely and a full moon on Halloween means tides will be higher, increasing the risk of waves overtopping sea walls during strong winds.

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It is also likely to be a very wet weekend in many areas across Scotland.

Sean said: “I’m expecting around 30-40mm to fall in the west Highlands, Argyll and across the hills of Dumfries and Galloway on Saturday, but in contrast, Moray will probably have around 8mm.

“More heavy rain will spread across the country on Saturday night and yet more on Sunday night for southern and eastern areas. Some spots in the west Highlands could have as much as 50-60mm of rain through the weekend.

“I always feel we get more flooding issues at this time of year because we have so many leaves coming down and blocking drains. So we can expect some large puddles to develop on the usual roads, so bare this in mind if you’re driving, especially on country roads.

“Some rivers have also been running a bit higher than usual, such as the Cree and Garnock, so additional rain this weekend will likely raise levels again in the west.

“So if you’re planning on some outdoor visiting this weekend prepare for some very unsettled conditions, and if you’re planning on travel prepare for the possibility of disruption, particularly for ferry travel.”


Train line to reopen three months after deadly crash

Line between Aberdeen and Dundee has been closed since three men were killed in August's derailment.

STV
The ScotRail train came off the tracks following a night of heavy rain..

The train line between Aberdeen and Dundee is to reopen three months after a fatal derailment.

Three men died when a ScotRail service struck a landslip and came off the tracks at a bridge near Stonehaven on August 12. Extensive damage was caused to the tracks, bridge and embankment at the site in Carmont.

Network Rail said engineers had been working “round the clock” to repair the track and introduce new safety measures, allowing train services to resume on Tuesday, November 3.

Driver Brett McCullough, conductor Donald Dinnie and passenger Christopher Stuchbury were killed when the 6.38am Aberdeen-Glasgow service derailed.

Network Rail via Contributed
Engineers have been working ’round the clock’ to get the track looking like this.
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It was travelling back to Aberdeen after a landslide further down the line blocked its path following a night of heavy rain. An accident investigation is ongoing.

Alex Hynes, managing director of Scotland’s Railway, said: “We continue to work closely with accident investigators as we seek to learn the lessons of this tragedy and make our railway as safe as possible for our people and our passengers.

“Our thoughts continue to be with the families and friends of Brett, Donald and Christopher and with the other passengers and colleagues who were affected by the accident.

“Our engineers have been working around-the-clock to repair and reopen the railway and we thank all our customers and lineside neighbours for the understanding they have shown during this difficult and distressing event.”


Elderly woman attacked and robbed at home by three men

Woman, 76, left 'very upset' by incident in Renfrewshire.

SNS group via Police Scotland
Police: Appeal for witnesses as officers investigate robbery.

A 76-year-old woman has been attacked and robbed by three men at her own home in Renfrewshire.

The pensioner was left “very upset” by the incident, which happened in Elderslie around 7.30pm on Thursday.

The men gain access to the property in the Patrickbank Crescent area, before assaulting the woman and taking a substantial amount of property, including jewellery.

Detective Steven Lessels said: “The woman went to answer the door and was threatened and assaulted.

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“Although she declined medical assistance, she has understandably been left very upset by what has happened.

“The men then ransacked the property and made off.

“I am appealing to anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in the area, both before and after the incident, to get in touch. That may have been a vehicle or activity that seemed out of the normal.

“In particular, if you have CCTV images or dash-cam footage that shows anything suspicious at the time of the break-in or in the days running up to the incident, then please let us know to help with our investigation.”

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Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101.


Team GB runner Chris Smith ‘died doing what he loved’

Chris Smith's cousin posts family tribute after body found in search for 43-year-old.

Police Scotland
Chris Smith was a fell runner who represented Team GB.

The family of a Team GB fell runner has said he died “doing what he loved” after a body was found following a 48-hour search.

Chris Smith set off on a run from Invervar near Aberfeldy, Perth and Kinross, at about 3pm on Tuesday.

The 43-year-old was aiming to tackle a route including four Munros – Meall nan Aighean, Carn Mairg, Meall Garbh and Carn Gorm – and planned to return at 5pm.

Emergency services were called when he did not return and a search-and-rescue operation began to find Mr Smith – who was originally from Aberdeenshire but lived in Haywards Heath, West Sussex.

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On Thursday, Police Scotland said the body of a man was found near Meall Garbh at about 11.50am.

Ruth McKee, Mr Smith’s cousin, posted a tribute from the family on Friday morning on Twitter.

It said: “On behalf of the entire family, we are devastated to let you know that Chris has lost his life in Glen Lyon.

“He was doing what he loved having spent the previous days having the most special time with Lindsay, Cameron and Alastair.

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“We would like to thank everyone for the support they have given us, in particular the mountain rescue teams, emergency services, members of the public and Chris’s friends that joined the search.

“We will always treasure his energy, spirit and love. Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers.”

A GoFundMe page was also set up to support the work of Scottish Mountain Rescue in the search for Mr Smith, with more than £5000 raised so far.


Camera confuses linesman’s bald head for ball during match

Supporters watching match on Caley live stream miss some of the action as camera tracks linesman's head.

Ross MacDonald via SNS Group
Linesman: John McCrossan during the match between Inverness and Ayr.

An automatic camera confused a linesman’s bald head for the football during Inverness’ match against Ayr United.

The home side rescued a late point as they drew 1-1 in their second match of the Scottish Championship on Saturday.

But supporters watching the match on Caley’s live stream missed some of the action, as the Pixellot camera intermittently tracked John McCrossan’s head – instead of the ball.

After receiving complaints on social media, Pixellot confirmed they knew of the problem and said they were working to improve for the next match.

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A statement said: “We are aware of the issue with linesman and we are already working on improving this for the next game.”

The company said they hoped “this will not happen again”, adding that the “viewing experience will be better”.

Nikolay Todorov scored a late equaliser from a Ryan Fyffe assist, following Ayr’s opener through Kilmarnock loanee Innes Cameron in the 57th minute.


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