Sturgeon: Coronavirus vaccine rollout on track as targets met

First Minister says Scottish Government has met its February target date of offering vaccine to everyone aged over 70.

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The Scottish Government has met its February target of offering a vaccine to everyone aged over 70 or living with an extreme clinical vulnerability, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Monday.

During her daily coronavirus briefing, the First Minister said almost 100% of over 80s living in the community have been vaccinated, as well as 99 percent of people in the 75-79 age group.

Sturgeon also said that vaccination uptake among 70-74 year-olds is at 85%. Furthemore, 53% of 65-69 year-olds have received their first dose of vaccine.

She said: “We are satisfied that we have met that target. Everyone in these groups has been offered the vaccine.

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“This is a vaccination programme in which nobody is going to be left behind.”

“These are without a doubt significant achievements. In the weeks ahead we expect that the first doses that have now been given to people in these groups will reduce deaths from Covid significantly and they will also have an impact, although perhaps a smaller one, on hospital admissions.”

But the First Minister also warned that the vaccine rollout will slow down this week – partly due to supply issues.

She said: “We are unlikely to vaccinate more than around 30,000 people a day this week – that’s partly because we’ve had such high uptakes in recent weeks but also partly because, as I said last week, we will have a lower supply of vaccines available to us this week

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No further coronavirus deaths were recorded in Scotland in the past 24 hours – but that is likely to be because registration offices are closed at the weekend.

The death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – remains at 6715.

Official figures also show 665 new cases of coronavirus have been recorded in the past 24 hours.

A total of 192, 375 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Scotland.

There are 1,428 people currently in hospital with confirmed Covid-19, which is 15 fewer than on Sunday.

Of these patients, 102 are in intensive care – two fewer from the previous day.

Data also shows that 1,255,190 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, an increase of 31,416 on the previous day’s figures.

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More than 388,000 Scots received their first dose of the vaccine over the last week – including 81,745 people who got their first jabs over the course of the weekend,

Furlough extension among Scottish Government budget asks

Kate Forbes calls on UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak to support Scotland as lockdown measures start to ease in the coming weeks.

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Kate Forbes has written to Rishi Sunak ahead of UK Budget.

Extending the £20 Universal Credit uplift and the furlough scheme are among the Scottish Government’s asks ahead of this week’s UK Budget.

In a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Scotland’s Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has urged the UK Government to support Scotland as lockdown measures are set to be eased over the next six weeks.

As a result of the pandemic, the UK Government increased the weekly payment of its flagship benefit by £20.

Forbes said Joseph Rowntree Foundation research said ending the uplift would lead to 500,000 being pushed into poverty.

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She said: “I therefore reiterate my call for the UK Government to do the right thing and make the uplift permanent and extend it to legacy benefits in order to provide meaningful and effective long-term support as the effects of the pandemic continue to be felt.”

With the furlough scheme due to end in April, three months before the Scottish and UK Governments have said they hope to have the entirety of the adult population vaccinated and two months ahead of the earliest point where restrictions in England can be ended, Forbes again urged its extension.

“It is clear that the scheme needs to be extended beyond the present end date of April 2021,” she wrote.

“Whilst the rollout of vaccines provides hope that we will soon be able to return to normal, there remains a high level of uncertainty over how quickly public health restrictions can be lifted.

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“It is clear that furlough remains the appropriate support for businesses that are not able to fully open, and it is essential that the UK Government commits to it remaining available to businesses in Scotland as long as restrictions remain in place.”

The Scottish Government is currently in the process of passing its budget, having to announce its draft plans before the UK Budget was announced after a delay for the second year in a row.

Forbes said the levelling-up fund had left a £400m hole in the Scottish Government’s coffers after the UK Government decided the fund should be administered across the entirety of the UK by Westminster in a similar way to the shared prosperity fund, news Forbes said her officials learned about through a news release.

She said: “I have built my budget around reasonable expectations that UK Government expenditure in devolved areas in England would generate Barnett consequentials, and so I would be grateful for assurances that this £400 million gap in the Scottish budget will be filled.

“Scottish Government funding should not be cut to pay for UK Government policies that are designed to undermine the devolution settlement.”

A spokeswoman for the Treasury said: “The UK Government has protected nearly a million jobs and thousands of businesses in Scotland since the start of the pandemic.

“And just last week the Treasury provided the Scottish Government with an additional £1.1bn, enabling them to support people, businesses and public services affected by coronavirus.

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“At the Budget the Chancellor will set out the next stage of our plan to protect and create jobs in all corners of the UK.”

Two teens charged in connection with attempted murder of boy

Two schoolboys, aged 15 and 16-years-old, have been arrested and will appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

© Google Maps 2020
Boydstone Road, Glasgow.

Two teenage boys have been charged in connection with an attempted murder after police found a 15-year-old seriously injured in Thornliebank.

On Friday night at around 11.120pm, officers responded to reports of a disturbance on Boydstone Road.

Police found an injured schoolboy who was taken to hospital.

Two teenagers, aged 15 and 16-years-old have been arrested and will appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Monday, March 1.

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A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “A report is being submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.”


Duke of Cambridge urges people to get vaccinated from Covid

Prince William warns against 'rumours and misinformation' on social media about coronavirus jabs

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Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spoke to clinically vulnerable women who have been shielding.

The Duke of Cambridge has urged people to keep on taking the Covid-19 vaccination so “younger generations” will feel “it’s really important for them to have it”.

William also warned against “rumours and misinformation” on social media about coronavirus jabs, as he and Kate talked by video call with two clinically vulnerable women who have been shielding since last March.

His comments came after the Queen encouraged those hesitant about vaccination to “think about other people rather than themselves”.

The duke’s words were welcomed by Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director of the NHS.

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He said: “As we reach the next stage of the biggest and fastest vaccination programme in NHS history, fighting rumours and misinformation around the vaccine is crucial, and I would like to thank the duke and duchess for helping to get this potentially life-saving message out there.

“Thanks to the incredible efforts of our NHS staff, more than 16 million people in England are already vaccinated – it’s never too late to take up the offer and I would urge anyone eligible who has yet to do so to come forward to protect yourself and others.”

Shivali Modha, who has type 2 diabetes, and severe asthma sufferer Fiona Doyle are both now eligible for the vaccine as part of priority group 6, and were preparing to have their jabs when they spoke to the royals on Tuesday.

The Cambridges heard how Mrs Modha, a mother-of-two, had been anxious about the Covid-19 jab after reading things on social media, but has since been reassured by vaccinated family members and medics from the charity Diabetes UK.

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William told her: “Catherine and I are not medical experts by any means but if it’s any consolation, we can wholeheartedly support having vaccinations. It’s really, really important.

“We’ve spoken to a lot of people about it and the uptake has been amazing so far. We’ve got to keep it going so the younger generations also feel that it’s really important for them to have it.

“So it’s great that Shivali you’re taking the time to work it out and come to the conclusion that ‘I need to do this’ because social media is awash sometimes with lots of rumours and misinformation, so we have to be a bit careful who we believe and where we get our information from.

“Especially for those who are clinically vulnerable as well, it’s so important that those vaccinations are done, so good luck.”

The royal family have been supporting the NHS in its rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, visiting vaccination centres and thanking staff and volunteers for their efforts.

Some of the UK’s leading health charities, including Diabetes UK and Asthma UK, have formed a coalition to promote vaccine uptake among people with long-term health conditions.

Mrs Modha, 39, from Barnet in north-west London, was joined on the call by her husband Hiren and their daughters Shyaama, 11, and Jyoti, nine.

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She replied: “I guess it’s just the unknown and I think that’s the case for most people. It’s just something that is unknown right now. And by the time you’ve had it, it will be A-OK.”

Kate told her: “I hope it comes as a huge relief in the end. I know there’s maybe the anxiety and the worry leading up to it, but I hope for all of you it will add a bit of normality back to your lives and confidence as well as we go forward into the spring, that would be great.”

Thanking the duke and duchess for calling, Mrs Modha told them: “It’s really nice to have you in our home, I wish I could offer you a cup of tea!”

“Same here!” laughed Kate.

The duke and duchess also spoke to Fiona Doyle, 37, and her seven-year-old daughter Ciara, who have been shielding at home in East Finchley, north London, since the Covid-19 crisis began.

She said the charity Asthma UK had been a “real source of support” in dealing with her situation.

Asked by the duke how she felt about the vaccination, she replied: “I can’t wait! I’m priority group six, so any day now I’m really hoping to get called up.”

Ms Doyle added: “I think I’m trying to not see it as a magic cure. I’m not going to go out licking lampposts or anything straight away!”

“Did you used to do that before?” laughed William.

“I’m probably going to do what I do normally,” said Ms Doyle. “I’ll still wear my mask, I’ll still keep my hand gel, still social distance.

“But it’s nice to know that mentally you have that layer of protection and that if you do end up being unfortunate enough to catch it, it won’t be as severe as it might have been without having been vaccinated.”

Four arrested after scaling roof of burnt out nightclub

Three teens and a man were spotted inside the building through the fire-damaged roof of the O2 ABC in Glasgow.

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Four scale roof of Sauchiehall Street night club Campus.

A man and three teenagers have been arrested after climbing on the roof of a burnt out nightclub in Glasgow.

At around 8.20pm on Saturday, police were told four people had entered the fire-damaged Campus Bar on Sauchiehall Street.

A police helicopter was scrambled to the scene and caught images of the four through the destroyed roof of the O2 ABC music venue.

One 16-year-old, two 17-year-olds and a 22-year-old were all arrested and charged.

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Campus and the O2 ABC next door were decimated in a fire in 2018.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 8.20pm on Saturday, February 27, 2021, police received a report of four people entering a disused building in Sauchiehall Street.

“Officers attended and four males, one aged 16, two aged 17 and one aged 22, were arrested and charged in connection with the incident.   “


Three men in hospital after attempted murder and assaults

A 19-year-old and two 21-year-olds were injured in the attacks at the Greenfield Football Centre in Glasgow on Saturday.

© Google Maps 2020
Greenfield Football Centre on Duror Street.

Three men were taken to hospital after an attempted murder and two serious assaults near a football pitch in Glasgow.

A 19-year-old and two 21-year-olds were injured in the attacks at the Greenfield Football Centre on Duror Street, Carntyne, on Saturday.

Police are investigating the incident which was reported at around 8.20pm.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police are carrying out enquiries this morning following an attempted murder and two serious assaults.

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“Three men, two aged 21 and one aged 19 were taken to hospital. Police were made aware of the incident around 8:20 pm on Saturday, 27 February, 2021.

“Enquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances surrounding the incident.”


More than 125,000 reports of fly-tipping in last two years

Research from the Liberal Democrats shows 127,625 reports of fly-tipping were made to local authorities.

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More than 125,000 reports of fly-tipping were made to Scottish councils in the past two years.

More than 125,000 reports of fly-tipping were made to Scottish councils in the past two years.

Research from the Liberal Democrats showed that 127,625 reports of flytipping were made to local authorities, but only 12 were referred to the Procurator Fiscal.

The research shows that during 2020, there was an increase in flytipping reports, peaking at 6,994 in July.

Fife (eight), Dumfries and Galloway (three) and East Dunbartonshire (one) were the only three councils who reported incidents to the Procurator Fiscal.

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Glasgow City Council recorded the highest number of reports, with 44,190 across two years.

Lib Dem environment spokeswoman Molly Nolan has condemned the behaviour of people who dispose of their waste illegally and called for them to “face the full force of the law”.

Nolan said: “From remote beauty spots to busy cities, flytipping is a widespread issue, and it needs to be addressed.

“With refuse collections disrupted and tips closed for long stretches, there has clearly been an increase in incidents since the pandemic hit.

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“Just at the moment where many of us gained a fresh appreciation for nature and our local environment, it was disheartening to see such carelessness towards it.

“Fly-tipping is destructive and can prove catastrophic for animals, plants and soil.

“We need to see local authorities using the powers at their disposal to clamp down on this disgusting behaviour and ensure that repeat offenders especially feel the full force of the law.

“The next Scottish Government will need to look again at whether the existing penalty is a strong enough deterrent.”

Anas Sarwar wins Scottish Labour leadership election

The Glasgow MSP beat Central Scotland MSP Monica Lennon to succeed Richard Leonard.

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Anas Sarwar has beaten Monica Lennon to become the next leader of Scottish Labour.

Sarwar said it was the honour of his life to take on the role.

Cara Hilton, chair of the Scottish Labour party, announced the result on Saturday.

The ballot closed on Friday, February 26, with Sarwar winning 57.56% of the vote.

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The Glasgow MSP won over 61% of votes cast by party members, but received slightly less support from affiliated supporters than Lennon.

Sarwar said: “It is greatest honour of my to be elected leader of the Scottish Labour party.

“Thank you to our members and affiliates for putting your trust in me and giving me the opportunity to serve our movement.

“And thank you to Monica for joining me in what has been positive campaign that has shown the best of our party, not the worst of our politics.

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“I want to say directly to the people of Scotland. I know Labour has a lot of work to do to win back your trust because if we’re brutally honest, you haven’t had the Scottish Labour Party you deserve.

“Today we have elected the first ever ethnic minority leader of a political party in the UK.

“That doesn’t say something about me. That says something great about Scotland and its people.”

UK Labour leader Keir Starmer said: “Huge congratulations to Anas on his election as Leader of the Scottish Labour Party. I look forward to working with him to secure our economy, protect our NHS and rebuild our country.”

“We will fight the Scottish Parliamentary elections by making the case for a socially just Scotland in a modern United Kingdom. Under his leadership, Scottish Labour will focus on what unites us – not what divides us.

“I know Anas will do the hard work that is necessary to win back the trust of the Scottish people and build for the future as we emerge from this pandemic.“

Lennon thanked Sarwar for the “positive” leadership battle.

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She said: “I want to thank Anas Sarwar and his team for making this a positive debate. My own team of volunteers have been awesome. I’m grateful to everyone who has taken part and taken an interest.”

Ms Hilton thanked former leader Richard Leonard, interim leader Jackie Baillie and party staff and volunteers for their work.

She thanked both candidates saying: “At every stage of this election you’ve shown Scottish Labour at its very best.”

“The odds are stacked against us in this election.

“Now is the time, comrades, to come together… Scotland is ready for change, let’s deliver that.”

A poll conducted by Ipsos MORI for STV News this week projected the SNP to increase its share of the vote by nine, winning 72 of the 129 seats, giving the government a majority of 15.

The poll also showed the Scottish Conservatives coming in second second with 26 seats and Scottish Labour third on 17, with the Scottish Greens on nine and the Scottish Liberal Democrats on five.

SNP Depute Leader Keith Brown said: “Many congratulations to Anas Sarwar on becoming the new leader of Scottish Labour.

“The SNP remains willing to work with any party to oppose Tory austerity, protect our Parliament from a Tory power grab, and stand up for our place in Europe – however Mr Sarwar has, perhaps, an impossible job on his hands breathing life into a party with no new ideas, ambition or vision for Scotland.”


Coronavirus: Further 18 deaths and 525 cases in last 24 hours

The death toll under this measurement – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – is now 7129.

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Coronavirus: Further 18 deaths and 525 cases recorded.

Scotland has recorded another 18 deaths of coronavirus patients in the past 24 hours, the Scottish Government has said.

The death toll under this measurement – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – is now 7129.

A further 525 positive cases were also reported by the Scottish Government in the last 24 hours – 3.1% of those newly-tested, down from 3.3% the previous day.

The figures show 201,512 people have now tested positive in Scotland, up from 200,987 the previous day.

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NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde recorded 151 cases, along with 106 in Lothian and 89 in Lanarkshire.

There are 898 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, down 26 in 24 hours, and 74 patients are in intensive care, a decrease of six.

A further 27,224 people were vaccinated against Covid-19 in Scotland in the past 24 hours.

As of 8.30am on Saturday, a total of 1,570,153 people in Scotland had received their first dose of vaccine, and 72,178 have received their second dose.

St Johnstone and Livi go head to head for season’s first silverware

Two surprise packages meet in the League Cup final at Hampden.

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The first trophy of the season is at stake on Sunday,

The first silverware of the season is on the line on Sunday when Livingston and St Johnstone go head to head in the Betfred Cup final.

The Premiership sides meet at Hampden at 2pm with both sides dreaming of holding the trophy aloft and finishing what have been dream runs to make it to the final two.

Celtic’s recent dominance of the competition has come to an end with the defending champions suffering a second round knockout, meaning there will be a new name on the trophy for the first time since 2016.

Livingston are looking to win the tournament for the first time since 2004, when they won their only major silverware, while St Johnstone have been beaten finalists twice but never been named winners.

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That makes it all the more remarkable that the men who lead both teams are in their first season in management.

Former Scotland international Callum Davidson was given the job of following Tommy Wright as St Johnstone boss and has made the transition from coaching to being number one with no apparent difficulty.

Saints are currently eighth in the table and clear of the relegation places and he has guided the team through the group stage and past Motherwell, Dunfermline and Hibernian to reach the final.

“It is a huge game if you look at the history of the club,” Davidson said ahead of the game. “We don’t get there very often.

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“It is only three times before we’ve reached a national cup final so I think it is a massive opportunity to try to land a major trophy, probably a bit like Livingston.

“We are probably both very similar and it is a great opportunity for either club to win one.

“It is just a little disappointing that it is a time of Covid-19 for fans but I don’t think that will take away from the game and what it means to the players and to be the first group of players to win the Betfred Cup would be a massive achievement.

“In 20 years’ time they can look back and say they were the first team to win the Betfred Cup with St Johnstone.

“I would be delighted but most importantly it is about the players and I hope they achieve what I know they can achieve.”

Even without the final Livingston boss David Martindale would have had a remarkable year. The 46-year-old background has become well known and he completed a remarkable journey when appointed manager three months ago, having previously spent time in prison and begun rebuilding his life by volunteering at the club.

He was hailed inside and outside of football as a model for rehabilitation but also impressed with his work in the dugout. A remarkable unbeaten run showed Livingston’s strength and they came through a close match against St Mirren to reach the final.

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Martindale believes trophy success would help repay the support he has had along the way but is disappointed there won’t be fans at Hampden to enjoy the occasion.

“We were all delighted we got back to playing football but as the season goes on, I think you can see how much football misses the fans,” he said.

“We went on a 14-game unbeaten run, we are in a national final. For our fans to be missing that is typical Livingston. I am gutted for them.

“But the recent exposure I have had, or the club has had through myself getting made the manager, I think has been incredible. It’s been incredibly positive.

“And I think there will be fans up and down the country tuning in to hopefully watch Livingston lift the League Cup.”

For the players,. the overriding aim is to know that when the final whistle sounds, they have given their all and have no cause for regret. Livingston’s Jason Holt has lost out in cup finals for Hearts and Rangers and will use that feeling on Sunday.

“It might help a little,” he said of his previous experience. “Obviously I will try and use my experience but I just remember the feeling of being on the wrong side of the final and how much that hurt.

“I just want to use that to drive me on and make sure that I’m on the right side this time.”

The 28-year-old added: “Sometimes they don’t come around too often. You might only get to one cup final in your career, some players don’t get to any.

“My message would be to embrace it but don’t let it pass you by.”

St Johnstone’s Callum Booth is planning to savour the occasion and believes it will be the biggest match he has played in.

“I have never played in a national cup final so it doesn’t really get much bigger than that,” he said.

“I have been around a bit now and there have been a few big games in my career, but thinking about it, a national cup final at Hampden, it would be the biggest game of my career.

“It will mean a huge deal to me. It is absolutely massive and to win a trophy would be amazing.”

The national stadium may not be packed with fans but both sides know that their support will be cheering them on from afar.

For Livi boss Martindale, the game is just one more reason to be cheerful.

“The fans are delighted that there is a little bit of light this weekend,” he said. “The vaccination programme is getting rolled out, I think we can all see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. There is a cup final coming up.

“So I think the fans are in a better place and hopefully we can lift the trophy and put them in an even better place.”

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