Coronavirus ‘antibody test’ to be ready ‘within days’

A Westminster commitee heard 3.5 million kits had been bought and would be available in the 'near future'.

Antibodies: Tests would tell you if you'd had Covid-19. STV
Antibodies: Tests would tell you if you'd had Covid-19.

The public will be able to conduct coronavirus antibody tests at home within a matter of days, MPs have heard.

Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service, Public Health England (PHE), told Westminster’s science and technology committee that 3.5 million tests had been bought and would be available in the “near future”.

She said the tests would also allow key workers – like doctors and nurses – to go back to work if they have developed antibodies against Covid-19, but that they would ultimately be available to everyone.

Previously described by Boris Johnson as “as simple as a pregnancy test”, the test is designed to inform if you have previously had coronavirus and if you now have immunity to it.

The Prime Minister described the kits as, potentially, “a total game-changer”, with hopes it could help speed up the economic recovery from the impacts of the pandemic.

On Wednesday, Prof Peacock explained a small number of kits would be tested in a laboratory before being distributed via Amazon and in places like Boots.

She added: “Once we are assured that they do work, they will be rolled out into the community.

“Testing the test is a small matter, and I anticipate that it will be done by the end of this week.

“In the near future people will be able to order a test that they can test themselves, or go to Boots, or somewhere similar to have their finger prick test done.”

Asked whether this meant it would be available in a number of days, rather than weeks or months, she said “absolutely”.

On the test itself, Prof Peacock said: “It looks like a pregnancy test except that you’re putting a finger with a spot of blood on there.

“You prick your finger like a diabetic would, then get a drop of blood and put it on a filter paper, and then run some liquid to make that blood run into the test zone.”

She would not confirm if the tests would be free to the public but predicted any charge would be “absolutely minimal”.

Emergency coronavirus legislation passed unanimously

MSPs voted for the Coronavirus Scotland Bill, by 80 votes to zero, in a near 11-hour sitting.

Passed: Bill makes its way through Holyrood.

Emergency legislation to tackle the coronavirus pandemic has been passed in one day at Holyrood.

MSPs voted unanimously for the Coronavirus Scotland Bill, by 80 votes to zero, in a near 11-hour sitting.

The Bill seeks to make changes to the justice system, including the possibility of the release of some prisoners if Covid-19 causes issues in the prison service, rental sector and the functioning of public bodies to deal with the pandemic.

However, the Scottish Government was twice forced to make concessions throughout the day on the legislation, with a measure to make the most serious legal cases go ahead without a jury dropped and an extension to the Freedom of Information deadline amended.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf pledged to bring a standalone Bill to the parliament on its first day back after the Easter recess to replace the controversial measure, but added in the final leg of the debate that serious cases, referred to as solemn cases, could be scrapped for the duration of the pandemic.

Constitution secretary Mike Russell, who introduced the legislation, told MSPs: “I don’t express any pleasure in having spent this day passing this Bill, it would have been far better if none of us had been called to do so.

“But we have been and we’ve had to face up to our responsibilities.”

Mr Russell added: “We have a job, as leaders, political leaders, leaders in our community, to encourage, to support, to guide, to legislate and at the end of the day to work alongside our fellow citizens so that we can come through this challenge together.” 

More on:

COP26: Climate summit due to be held in Glasgow postponed

The conference, one of the world’s largest diplomatic gatherings with more than 26,000 expected attendees, has been postponed.

Summit: Conference was due to be held in Glasgow in November.

Vital climate talks due to be held in Glasgow this November have been moved to next year as governments struggle to combat the spread of coronavirus.

The conference, one of the world’s largest diplomatic gatherings with more than 26,000 expected attendees, was postponed with lockdowns around the world are making it difficult to hold talks leading up to the event.

The United Nations conference is deemed to be the most important in climate negotiations since the Paris agreement in 2015.

But with Covid-19 now affecting 203 countries and territories around the world, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) granted permission on Wednesday for the UK to postpone the talks until 2021.

New dates for the meetings will be decided in the coming months.

The UK energy minister and president of the Cop26 conference, Alok Sharma, is understood to have held urgent talks on Wednesday afternoon with the UNFCC to reach a final agreement.

The decision was confirmed on Wednesday night.

The decision has led to a mixed reaction from climate campaigners and environmental groups, some of whom had hoped the talks could go ahead using video conferencing or a slimmed down version of the event.

Leading environmental campaigner Dr Richard Dixon, from Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Given the worldwide health dangers of coronavirus, it is understandable that the UN climate negotiations in Glasgow have been delayed. 

“Every effort must be made to save lives and protect the vulnerable who will suffer the most in this crisis. However rich countries must not use the delay in the talks to delay taking urgent action on reducing emissions and providing climate finance for developing countries.

“The climate talks should go ahead as soon as it is safe to hold them, but it is essential that they do so on the basis that global south nations are able to fully attend and demand the action necessary to deal with the climate emergency. This means full access for  global south nations, experts or activists.

“There is historical precedent for two sets of climate talks in one year, with two rounds of climate negotiations taking place in 2001 in Bonn and in Marrakech. “

COP26 has been deemed vital to the climate crisis given that since the Paris agreement, countries have failed to develop climate commitments that go far enough.

The conference in Glasgow was meant to bring tougher plans – and most importantly strong budgets – to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The COP26 meeting was scheduled to be held in Glasgow at the SEC. This week, the Scottish Government announced the venue would be turned into a field hospital to treat virus victims.

Other upcoming climate talks, namely The Petersberg Climate Dialogue, will be held online at the end of April. The May preparatory meeting for the UN climate negotiations in Bonn is understood to be postponed to autumn.

More on:

Coronavirus: 16 more dead as cases rise to 2310 in Scotland

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the death toll in Scotland from Covid-19 now stands at 76.

Another 16 people have died from coronavirus overnight, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

It brings the Scottish death toll from Covid-19 to 76.

The number of confirmed positive cases in Scotland stands at 2310 – up 317 from Tuesday’s 1993.

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the rise at Holyrood on Wednesday.

A total of 147 patients are currently in intensive care, an increase of 12 from Tuesday.

The First Minister said the number of intensive care beds has been doubled – with the Scottish Government aiming to ensure it will be quadrupled, with operating theatres in NHS hospitals being re-purposed.

Sturgeon told MSPs that 1153 patients are currently in Scottish hospitals suffering from Covid-19.

The Scottish Government is also “working at pace” to boost its ability to test suspected cases, with the number of tests being done each day sitting at 1900 – a rise from 750 a few weeks ago.

Source: Scottish Government

Every health board area in Scotland has now reported cases after three were confirmed on the Western Isles and two on Orkney.

The highest number of confirmed Covid-19 patients remains in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area with 632 – a rise of 85 in a day.

There are 42 fresh cases in the Lothian region, taking the health board’s total to 311, 40 more each in Lanarkshire and Tayside, up to 284 and 254 respectively, and 22 new cases in Ayrshire and Arran, up to 199.

Forth Valley is up 15 to 146, Grampian is up 22 to 108, and Dumfries and Galloway has reached 100 cases, up eight in the last 24 hours,

There are 96 confirmed cases in Fife (up 20), 87 in the Borders (up ten), 58 in the Highlands (up seven) and 30 on Shetland (up one).

Across the UK, total patient deaths from coronavirus have risen to 2352 – a rise of 563 in 24 hours.

Body of Billy McNeill’s missing grandson found in Amsterdam

Matthew McCombe’s parents said the 21-year-old was 'much loved by all'.

Family: Matthew McCombe was 'much loved by all'.

The body of Billy McNeill’s grandson has been found in Amsterdam 18 days after going missing.

Matthew McCombe’s parents said he was “much loved by all”, adding: “Our hearts are broken.”

The 21-year-old, whose mum is the daughter of late Celtic legend McNeill, was last seen on the Berlagebrug bridge at 8.15am on March 14.

Police launched a search while Mr McCombe’s mum appealed to the “Celtic family” to share his picture far and wide in an effort to help trace him.

Celtic FC also issued an appeal for help.

Amsterdam police said on Wednesday that a body had been found in the water at the Molenkade in Duivendrecht, about four miles south-east of the city.

A police spokesman confirmed the body was that of the missing Scot.

He said: “This morning we found a corpse in the water at the Molenkade in Duivendrecht.

“Our colleagues discovered that this is the missing Matthew McCombe.

“We are investigating the cause of death.”

His parents – Paula and Charlie – posted a message on Facebook, stating: “It is with great sadness that we are announcing our son Matthew McCombe’s body was found this morning.

“Matthew was much loved by all and our hearts are broken.

“We would like to thank everyone who has helped in the search for Matthew and for the love, compassion and kindness that has been extended to us since our arrival in Amsterdam.

“As a family we would kindly ask for our privacy to be respected in these sad times.”

Celtic shared a statement expressing their ‘devastation’ at the news.

The club’s chief executive Peter Lawwell said: “The passing of Matthew is devastating news for the entire McNeill family and our thoughts and prayers are very much with all family members at such a very difficult time.

“We know the search for Matthew has been long and difficult and everyone at the club is hugely saddened that it has concluded in this way, with such a heartbreaking result.

“For such a fine young man to be taken so early in his life is a real tragedy. Clearly, we will be here to offer the McNeill family our absolute, heartfelt support.”

Hibs have also paid tribute.

A spokesperson said: “Everyone at Hibernian is saddened at the news of the passing of Matthew McCombe, grandson of Billy McNeill.

“Matthew was once part of our academy set-up, playing alongside the likes of Fraser Murray and Ryan Porteous. 

“Our thoughts are with family and friends at this time.”

Live: Coronavirus news updates from across Scotland

People have been told to stay at home in an effort to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

9.17pm – COP26: Climate summit due to be held in Glasgow postponed

Vital climate talks due to be held in Glasgow this November have been moved to next year as governments struggle to combat the spread of coronavirus.

The conference, one of the world’s largest diplomatic gatherings with more than 26,000 expected attendees, was postponed with lockdowns around the world are making it difficult to hold talks leading up to the event.

8.13pm – Emergency coronavirus legislation passed unanimously

Emergency legislation to tackle the coronavirus pandemic has been passed in one day at Holyrood.

MSPs voted unanimously for the Coronavirus Scotland Bill, by 80 votes to zero, in a near 11-hour sitting.

Read the full story.

7.10pm – Scottish football coronavirus response group update

Following confirmation earlier that Scotland’s Euro 2020 play-off against Israel will not take place in June after UEFA cancelled all games for the foreseeable future, an update has been shared by the coronavirus response group.

Ian Maxwell, Scottish FA chief executive, has said the decision from UEFA was “well-received and unsurprising under the circumstances”.

He added: “We have communicated the competition updates to the national teams department and they will plan accordingly, or as best they can with the information available.

“Given the ever-changing landscape it is understandable that UEFA cannot be definitive on when these rescheduled matches will take place but we will continue to liaise and input at the appropriate time.

“However during the presentation a number of viable and common-sense options were discussed, particularly with respect to the Nations League and Play-Off fixtures, that we look forward to receiving further information on.”

6.22pm: Scottish climate change update delayed due to Covid-19

New plans on tackling climate change have been put on hold in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

Environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham announced ministers will not be publishing the climate change plan update that had been due by the end of April.

The Covid-19 outbreak means this is “no longer feasible or appropriate”, she said.

But Cunningham insisted the administration is still “fully committed” to tackling the problem and to meeting its target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.

6.03pm: Rise in car journeys across UK ‘concerning’

UK Government officials have described as “concerning” data that shows car usage across the UK has jumped by around 10%.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director of Public Health England, warned that “everyone” needs to follow official guidance to avoid non-essential travel “to save lives and protect the NHS”.

However, the uptick in figures as of March 31 revealed during No 10’s daily coronavirus briefing could partly be explained by figures falling over the weekend.

5.50pm: Retired doctor in England dies after contracting Covid-19

Dr Alfa Saadu: Died on Tuesday morning

A 68-year-old NHS doctor who retired in 2017 but carried on working part-time in Hertfordshire, England, has died of coronavirus.

Nigerian-born Dr Alfa Saadu, former medical director at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, Essex, had been dealing with the virus for two weeks, his family said.

He retired following a glittering 40-year medical career in 2017, but carried on working part-time at the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Hertfordshire.

In a social media post, his son Dani said he’d been fighting the virus for a fortnight but “couldn’t fight anymore”, and died on Tuesday morning.

5.03pm: Louisa Jordan: The war nurse inspiring coronavirus battle

A temporary hospital being created at the SEC in Glasgow to tackle coronavirus has been named after a First World War nurse

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman announced the medical facility will be named after Sister Louisa Jordan, who died on active service in Serbia in 1915.

The Glaswegian provided much-needed care to an area which was in dire need as part of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Services. 

Read the full story.

4.12pm: Passenger numbers on CalMac ferries plummet

CalMac.
CalMac ferries: Numbers drop by 95 per cent.

Passenger numbers on CalMac boats have dropped by 95% since rules on essential ferry travel were put in place.

The operator introduced an essential lifeline timetable last week aimed at keeping essential goods, services and people going to and from the islands.

Since then the company has carried just 2593 passengers compared to 57,233 for the same period last year, a drop of 95%.

Some services are running with just one or two passengers along with the essential goods and services.

“It is hugely encouraging that the public are paying attention to the Government advice of do not travel unless your journey is absolutely essential,” said CalMac’s managing director Robbie Drummond.

3.30pm: Sealed pods to be used in transport of patients from islands

Sealed isolation pods will be used by the Scottish Ambulance Service to safely airlift Covid-19 patients.

The new adult-sized incubators, known as EpiShuttles, are currently being tested and are expected to come into use within days.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman said the technology will enable safe transport of patients while protecting crew members.

She confirmed the ambulance service will kit out two Loganair twin otter planes with the shuttles, one by Friday and the other within two weeks, which will provide airlifts from islands with appropriate landing facilities.

The ambulance service said so far eight shuttles have been bought, two of which have been received and are currently being tested.

A further two are expected to arrive on April 17 and four more by mid-May, costing more than £500,000 in total.

2.45pm: Amazon worker tests positive for coronavirus

A worker at the Amazon depot in Dunfermline has tested positive for coronavirus.

An Amazon spokesperson said: “We are supporting the individual who is now in quarantine.

“Since the early days of this situation, we have worked closely with local authorities to proactively respond, ensuring we continue to serve customers while taking care of our associates and we’re following all guidelines from local officials about the operations of our buildings. 

“We have implemented proactive measures at our facilities to protect employees including increased cleaning at all facilities, maintaining social distance in the FC, and adding distance between drivers and customers when making deliveries.” 

2.15pm: New benefits put on hold

Plans to introduce new benefits in Scotland have been put on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Social security secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville told MSPs on Wednesday that “tough decisions” are having to be made across departments.

She said the Child Disability Payment and the Scottish replacement for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) will be delayed.

Staff at Social Security Scotland are largely working from home, she said, and difficulties created by the pandemic mean “business as usual is not an option.”

While existing payments will continue to be delivered, the two new benefits will be pushed back for at least several months.

They were expected to start in 2020.

The Scottish Child Payment, which will help families on low incomes and was on track to begin this autumn, has also been postponed.

12.10pm: 16 more dead as cases rise to 2310 in Scotland

Another 16 people have died from coronavirus overnight, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

It brings the Scottish death toll from Covid-19 to 76.

The number of confirmed positive cases in Scotland stands at 2310 – up 317 from Tuesday’s 1993.

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the rise at Holyrood on Wednesday.

12pm: Edinburgh’s summer festivals cancelled

Edinburgh’s summer festivals have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Fringe, International Festival, Jazz and Blues Festival, Book Festival and Military Tattoo announced their plans on Wednesday.

It’s the first time the festivals have been cancelled in their 70-year history.

11.30am: Coronavirus Bill passes stage one at Holyrood

The Scottish Government’s emergency coronavirus Bill passed the first stage of parliamentary scrutiny after plans to suspend jury trials were dropped.

The provision, which would scrap juries in the most serious cases in Scottish courts, proved controversial with other parties and members of the legal profession following the publication of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill on Tuesday.

Constitutional relations secretary Mike Russell confirmed another Bill will be brought before Holyrood to address necessary changes to the justice system during the pandemic.

In another concession from the Scottish Government, Europe minister Jenny Gilruth announced amendments will be tabled to address concerns over the extension of the deadline for freedom of information (FOI) requests, which the Bill looked to push from 20 to 60 working days.

11am: Scottish charities to receive £1.4m Kiltwalk boost

Scottish charities hit by the coronavirus pandemic will share a £1.4m cash boost from a fundraising walk – despite the event being postponed.

The Glasgow Kiltwalk was due to take place on Sunday, April 26 but organisers decided it could no longer go ahead in light of the virus outbreak.

They urged participants to keep fundraising and £720,000 has been collected for charity.

Philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter, of The Hunter Foundation, which underwrites the Kiltwalk, has now announced he will double the funds raised instead of his planned 50% increase.

The cash will be given to hundreds of charities including Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, Beatson Cancer Charity, amputee support organisation Finding Your Feet and Calum’s Cabin, which organises breaks for children with cancer and their families.

Food banks such as Paul’s Parcels in Shotts, North Lanarkshire, are also being helped and the charity said the cash will enable them to double the number of families given food parcels.

10.45am: BP cuts spending amid ‘brutal’ conditions

BP said it is acting quickly to strengthen its finances amid the “most brutal environment for oil and gas businesses in decades” after prices plummeted in the face of coronavirus.

The oil giant said it will reduce its capital spending plans by 25% – with a new forecast of $12bn – as part of cost reductions.

However, it stressed that no BP employee will be laid off during the next three months as a result of virus-related cost-cutting.

The company added that it will reduce output from its US shale oil and gas business, with plans to cut investment in its shale arm by $1bn.

The price of oil has crashed in recent weeks due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, with Brent crude falling to an 18-year low on Monday.

BP said it expects to achieve $2.5bn in cost savings by the end of 2021 as it looks to mitigate the impact of lower prices.

10.30am: Stranded tourists wait for news on charter flights

Hundreds of thousands of UK citizens stranded abroad face an anxious wait for details of rescue flights to be announced.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has set aside £75m to charter flights from destinations where commercial routes have been severed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Repatriation flights operated from Peru and Tunisia on Tuesday, but details of further flights have not been revealed.

On March 23, the FCO advised all UK residents who were travelling abroad to return home.

Hundreds of thousands of people have since travelled back on commercial flights, but transport secretary Grant Shapps estimates around 300,000 are still overseas.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said on Monday that only 1400 UK nationals had been repatriated on flights chartered by the Government.

He said that once flights have been chartered they will be promoted in the Government’s travel advice and by embassies and high commissions in relevant countries.

He acknowledged the FCO has not “faced an international challenge quite like this before” but insisted “we are going to rise to it”.

10.20am: Manufacturing sector ‘knocked sideways’

UK manufacturers had their worst month in eight years in March as the economy was ground down by efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus across the world.

Manufacturing output fell to its worst extent since July 2012, according to the data from IHS Markit and CIPS.

The closely watched Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 47.8 in March, down from 51.7 the month before. If the sector scores below 50 it means that it is contracting.

Direct disruption from Covid-19 created a perfect storm, along with lower market confidence and companies shutting down to slow production and new business, the survey found.

10am: Scottish Government drops trial without jury plans

Controversial plans to temporarily end trial by jury have been dropped from the Scottish Government’s emergency coronavirus legislation.

Constitution Secretary Mike Russell told Holyrood that they were withdrawing that section of the Coronavirus Scotland Bill “to allow an intensive and wide-ranging discussion by all interested parties, including victims, whose voice has not yet been fully heard, about the right way to ensure that justice continues to be done in Scotland”.

Mr Russell also said that he expected the Scottish Government to bring a “standalone Bill” back to the parliament on the next sitting day – believed to be April 21 – on how the justice system will function during the outbreak.

9am: Taylor Wimpey cancels bosses’ bonuses

Top bosses at Taylor Wimpey will not get their added rewards this year after the company closed all of its construction sites.

The housebuilder said that annual bonuses will be scrapped and the board will take a 30% pay cut, as it tries to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

The company also plans to cancel a 2% annual salary increase for its executive directors which was set to come into force on April 1.

“The objective of these changes is to conserve cash, with a particular focus on protecting the long-term financial security of the business as a whole, for the benefit of all of the company’s stakeholders,” Taylor Wimpey said in a statement to shareholders on Wednesday morning.

The housebuilder last month shut all its construction sites, show homes and sales centres. It was later joined by fellow builders Bellway, Persimmon and Barratt Developments.

8.45am: Schoolboy braves the shave for nurses

A kind-hearted six-year-old boy has shaved his head to raise money for hardworking NHS nurses.

Bannon McLellan, from Fallin in Stirling, said: “I wanted to raise money for the nurses so I could help people.

“I like it. I’m calling myself baldy.”

Fundraiser: Bannon McLellan shaved his head.

The St Margaret’s Primary School pupil raised £500 in 48 hours.

As a newborn baby, he spent a week in Forth Valley Royal Hospital’s neonatal unit. He had fluid in his lungs and was in an incubator fully ventilated. 

His mum, Tammie, said she has never forgotten the kindness shown by the “amazing” nurses and goes back to the hospital every Christmas with chocolates to say thank you.

Having seen all the hard work being done by NHS workers during this Covid-19 pandemic, she stated: “We wanted to give something back to help everyone in the frontline.”

8.30am: Householders urged to compost garden waste

Aberdeenshire residents tending to their gardens during the coronavirus lockdown are being encouraged to compost their garden waste.

The recommendation from Aberdeenshire Council comes following the closure of the authority’s household waste and recycling centres across the region.

Home compost bins can be purchased through the council and enables residents to compost their garden waste as well as some food waste.

Residents are also urged not to burn their garden waste or leave items at the gates of the closed recycling centres.

Ellon: Recycling centres in Aberdeenshire have been closed.

A spokesperson for Aberdeenshire Council said: “Burning waste is not lawful and we strongly advise against it.

“We have some guidance on our website for how to properly dispose of garden waste.

“We understand many householders are struggling with excess waste as a result of the HRC closures. However, we are urging residents to be responsible with their rubbish and not leave bags at the gates. 

“This is considered fly-tipping and legal action will be taken against those responsible.

“Additionally, loose bags pose a direct health risk to our staff, who need to handle these materials. 

“We advise residents dispose of materials at home where possible, or store recyclable goods until the centres reopen.”

8.15am: Charity delivers 2300 food hampers to those in need

A Glasgow-based charity that aims to tackle poverty has delivered 2300 food hampers to those in need since the coronavirus crisis began.

Fare (Family Action Rogerfield and Easterhouse) Scotland has been raising funds through its JustGiving page to provide the most vulnerable people with extra food.

Councillor Thomas Kerr praised the charity and all those who have donated.

He added: “The slogan ‘People Make Glasgow’ has never been truer than over these past few weeks as our city battles against the coronavirus pandemic and Fare are just one of the hundreds of organisations who have made a real and lasting difference to so many in our communities.

“Delivering 2300 food hampers – that’s 60,000 meals for vulnerable people in the East End – is truly inspiring.”

7.55am: Tens of thousands of safety equipment donated

Almost 32,000 pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been donated to Glasgow City Council following a plea for donations last week.

Glasgow’s lord provost Phillip Braat thanked the organisations and individuals for all the supplies received so far but urged Glaswegians to keep donating if they could to protect communities and frontline staff.

City Chambers: Glasgow council has appealed for more donations. Getty Images

Mr Braat said that Glasgow needed to prepare for the “long haul” as the crisis continued.

He added: “These past few weeks have been very momentous as the country endures lockdown. We need to realise that this crisis is extremely severe and will not end in the next few weeks.

“There is still a long way to go. That’s why I am re-appealing to the generosity of individuals and organisations who can afford to provide more supplies.”

Appealing for gloves, aprons, face masks and hand sanitiser, the lord provost added: “I want to assure the public that any donations however big or small will be greatly received and will all go towards keeping you and our frontline staff safe during these difficult times.”

7.20am: Major insurers pull out of travel insurance deals

Nearly half of the UK’s major insurers have pulled out of the travel insurance market since the coronavirus pandemic sparked chaos around the world, Which? has found.

The consumer group contacted 75 insurance providers to find out if and how they were amending their provision of travel insurance following the outbreak.

Which? researchers found that 31 insurers, including household names such as Aviva, LV= and Direct Line, had temporarily suspended the sale of travel insurance to new customers as a result of the pandemic.

A further 13 had changed aspects of their policies.

Existing customers who booked their trips and purchased their insurance before the outbreak, or before insurers amended their terms to exclude claims related to coronavirus, should still be able to claim for any non-refundable costs of cancelled holidays or travel plans as a result of the virus, Which? said.

7.15am: Briton dies aboard coronavirus-hit cruise ship

A British national is among four people to have died on a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship embroiled in a bitter dispute over plans to disembark passengers in the US.

In what is being described as an unfolding humanitarian crisis, so far two of the four people to have died on the cruise ship Zaandam have been confirmed to have had Covid-19, with nine people aboard testing positive and 189 reporting flu-like symptoms.

A spokesman for Holland America Line, which operates the Zaandam, said: “One of the deceased passengers is from the UK.

“Due to US laws, we cannot provide any additional medical and health details.”

The Zaandam, which is carrying more than 200 British nationals, and its sister ship the Rotterdam, passed through the Panama Canal on Monday after being denied entry to several ports. 

Both ships are seeking to dock in Florida later this week.

7.10am: Petrol stations ‘will be forced to close’

Many petrol stations will be forced to close due to a lack of sales and their businesses becoming unprofitable, a trade association has warned.

The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) stated that sites in rural areas where fuel use has collapsed the most are particularly vulnerable.

The PRA, which represents independent fuel retailers who account for 70% of UK forecourts, advised motorists to check their petrol station is still open before going to fill up.

Fuel: Petrol stations could close due to Covid-19.

It will attempt to keep a “strategic network of petrol stations” open across the country.

PRA chairman Brian Madderson said: “To help freight move and help key workers travel safely and independently through this period of crisis, petrol filling stations must remain open but this is proving to be a challenge.

“Fuel retailers are having to maintain pump prices at previous levels to avoid suffering significant stock losses.”

The PRA cited figures published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) over the weekend which it said show that three out of five petrol stations have full storage tanks.

It noted that independent retailers would have bought this fuel days or weeks earlier at much higher wholesale prices than those available today.

The trade body also said fuel consumption has fallen by more than 70% due to the pandemic.

7am: ‘Pay extra attention to electrical safety’

People working from home have been warned about overloading sockets, daisy chaining, and charging devices on beds during lockdown.

Electrical Safety First is concerned that many may be putting themselves at unnecessary risk due to unsafe electrical set-ups, amid a rise in remote working due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Safety tips

  • Don’t charge electrical items on beds. Always charge on a hard, flat, non-flammable surface.
  • Avoid overloading sockets and extension leads.
  • Keep your workstation tidy.
  • Be mindful of cables – they can present a trip hazard.
  • Don’t daisy chain extension leads.
  • If cooking at lunchtime, be mindful not to get distracted by emails or work calls that may result in the hob being left on and unattended.

6.30am: Scotland captain backs charity helping elderly

Scotland captain Andy Robertson has given his backing to a charity supporting elderly people during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Liverpool defender said he wants people to know Age Scotland, which has experienced a tenfold increase in calls during the Covid-19 outbreak, is there for them.

Captain: Liverpool and Scotland defender Andy Robertson. SNS Group

Age Scotland typically receives around 70 calls a week but this has spiked to more than 700.

Robertson said: “I want people to know that Age Scotland is here for them.

“Their fantastic helpline is offering great support to older people and their families as we all adapt to a new way of life for a while.”

For support, call 0800 12 44 222.

6.30am: Domestic abuse will be prosecuted ‘firmly’ during lockdown

Domestic abuse cases will be prosecuted firmly and fairly during the coronavirus pandemic, Scotland’s senior law officer has said.

The Lord Advocate, James Wolffe QC, told victims he knows they may be more at risk during the lockdown but said public safety remains a priority for law enforcement during this period.

Mr Wolffe’s assurances come a year after the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 came into effect, criminalising coercive and controlling behaviour towards a partner or ex-partner.

6.30am: New contactless card limit rolled out

Shoppers will now be able to make contactless card payments with a new higher limit of up to £45 per transaction.

The limit in shops is increasing from £30, as part of measures to combat coronavirus.

It will mean more payments can be made without the need to handle cash and it will also reduce the number of occasions when people need to input their pin on a machine when making payments.

An increased limit was already being considered but the process has been accelerated as part of the finance and payments industry’s response to Covid-19.

6.30am: Holyrood to vote on emergency legislation

MSPs are expected to pass emergency legislation to tackle coronavirus in a rare one-day sitting on Wednesday.

Introduced on Tuesday by constitutional relations secretary Mike Russell, the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill will make changes to the legal system, rental sector and public services as a result of the virus.

MSPs will be asked to grant emergency status to the Bill on Wednesday morning, allowing the three-stage process to take place in a single day.

6.30am: The fight against coronavirus continues

People are expected to remain at home in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Nine days ago, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Britons should only go out for exercise once a day.

Gatherings of two of more people are banned, except for members of the same household. 

People should only go to the shops for essentials like food or medicine as infrequently as possible, and should not go out to see friends or family members who do not live in the same house.

Louisa Jordan: The war nurse inspiring coronavirus battle

Sister Louisa Jordan died on active service in Serbia during the First World War.

Scotland
Hospital: Facility named after WWI nurse.

A temporary hospital being created at the SEC in Glasgow to tackle coronavirus has been named after a First World War nurse

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman announced the medical facility will be named after Sister Louisa Jordan, who died on active service in Serbia in 1915.

The Glaswegian provided much-needed care to an area which was in dire need as part of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Services. 

Born in Maryhill in 1878, Louisa Jordan worked as a nurse at Crumpsall Infirmary in Manchester and returned to Scotland to work in Shotts Fever Hospital.

She signed up to the war effort in December 1914 while working as a Queen’s nurse in Buckhaven, Fife. 

Louisa was sent to Kraguievac in Serbia, a city 100 miles south of Belgrade and even though fighting at the time was minimal, Serbia was short of medical facilities. 

The nurse got stuck in to helping the wounded, but soon an outbreak of typhus broke out in the city.

‘This hospital is a fitting tribute to her service and her courage.’

Jeane Freeman, Health Secretary

Louisa died of typhus in Serbia on March 6, 1915, aged 36, and is buried in Chela Kula Military Cemetery.

She is commemorated on the Buckhaven War Memorial and at Wilton Church in Glasgow. 

The people of Serbia gather each year to commemorate the courage and sacrifice of Sister Jordan and her colleagues.

Ms Freeman said: “Sister Louisa Jordan, born just a couple of miles north of the SEC in Glasgow’s Maryhill, served with great bravery and distinction in the Scottish Women’s Hospital in Serbia during WWI. 

“She is a person who has perhaps up until now been better remembered in Serbia than in Scotland. This hospital is a fitting tribute to her service and her courage.

“I want to thank the many clinical, operational and construction staff who have been on site at the SEC alongside the army, developing this new temporary hospital. 

“Their work will ensure that, if required, this facility will provide extra capacity for NHS Scotland.

“I hope this new hospital will not be needed – but we must prepare for every eventuality. 

“The public’s contributed efforts to stay at home, in addition to the other measures implemented and the steps we are already taking to increase capacity within existing hospitals are all aimed at making sure NHS Scotland can cope with the expected surge in patients. NHS Louisa Jordan will ensure there is even further capacity if needed.” 

The emergency facility announced by the First Minister on Monday will be run by NHS Scotland.

It will initially create capacity for 300 extra hospital beds, with the ability to expand to over 1000 if required.

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Crews battle fire as blaze tears through building

Firefighters are in attendance on Kenmure Street in the Pollokshields area of Glasgow.

Lucy Gillie

Firefighters are tackling a blaze which has taken hold of a tenement building in Glasgow’s southside.

Crews are in attendance on Kenmure Street in the Pollokshields area of the city.

A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said they were alerted to the “well-developed fire” at 4.53pm on Wednesday.

He added: “Operations control mobilised nine appliances, including two height appliances, and firefighters are working to contain and extinguish the flames.

“There are no reported casualties at this time. Crews will remain in attendance for some time.”

Police confirmed they were assisting SFRS with evacuating residents and implementing road closures in the area.

The blaze is just across the road from a building on Albert Drive, which was ravaged by a devastating fire in November.

It had broken out at the Strawberry & Spice Garden grocery and was so severe it caused the building to collapse.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “This is horrible to see – and so soon after the Albert Drive fire just across the road.

“Hoping everyone is safe and any damage is limited.”

Scots donate pizza to NHS staff battling Covid-19 pandemic

Every Slice Helps was launched by Mark Dickson in Fife, whose own wife is a doctor.

People across Scotland are donating a slice of goodwill to NHS workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Every Slice Helps was launched in recent weeks by Mark Dickson in Fife, whose own wife is a doctor.

He wanted to help boost the morale of doctors and nurses on the frontline tackling the spread of Covid-19.

In just two weeks Every Slice Helps doubled its intended £3000 target and pizzas have already begun to arrive for staff in the country’s three biggest hospitals.

Donations for the cause have come in from as far as Israel.

The crowdfunder has teamed up with independent pizzerias including the Pizza Geeks in Edinburgh who answered the call to help.

Finlay Clarkson and Patrick Ward from Pizza Geeks have already pledged to bake 450 pizzas this week with the first batch already sent to the staff at the Edinburgh Sick Kids hospital and to homeless shelters in the city.

“Even though we are closed to the public during this period, we decided to carry on making pizzas to support NHS staff, care workers and Edinburgh’s homeless community,” said Mr Clarkson

“It’s a really tricky time for frontline health workers but also for people who are struggling a wee bit, so we’re just bringing pizzas to them to try and boost morale and bring them really important hot food.”

Hot help: Fresh pizzas going out to NHS workers

In order to keep the donations as safe as possible, the pizzas are delivered to special drop-off zones to avoid person to person contact on delivery and individual smaller pizza boxes are used to avoid food sharing.

‘We will survive! We will get through this with a bit of pizza but most importantly all of us looking out for each other.’

Finlay Clarkson, Pizza Geeks

The team say that some requests come in from colleagues and friends so it’s a nice surprise to the doctors and nurses when the hot food arrives.

Mr Clarkson and Mr Ward also say they would like to hear from more people who might be in need of a hot meal who they can help.

They are already on the streets with charity the Cyrenians this week to deliver hot pizza to people still sleeping rough.

“We will survive! We will get through this with a bit of pizza but most importantly all of us looking out for each other,” said Mr Clarkson.

“It’s about the community supporting each other – even a message of support online can meet a lot to people. If we all work together we can get through this.”

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Edinburgh’s summer festivals cancelled due to coronavirus

Capital's big five annual arts festivals won't go ahead this year for the first time in their history.

Millions of people travel to Edinburgh every summer for the capital's festivals.

Edinburgh’s summer festivals have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Fringe, International Festival, Jazz and Blues Festival, Book Festival and Military Tattoo announced their plans on Wednesday.

It’s the first time the festivals have been cancelled in their 70-year history.

In a widely expected move, Edinburgh’s council leader said it “was a profoundly difficult decision”.

Tens of thousands of performances take place in the capital every summer in what is widely believed to be the biggest event of its kind anywhere in the world.

Artists and audiences visit Edinburgh each summer from across the world, and with travel restrictions in place indefinitely to fight Covid-19, organisers had no choice but to pull the plug.

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: “It’s heartbreaking that the Fringe and our sister August festivals will not take place as planned this summer.

“However, having taken advice and considered all the options, we  collectively believe this is the only appropriate response.”

Council leader Adam McVey said support would be offered to the cultural sector.

He said: “This was a profoundly difficult decision– leaving a massive gap in our Capital – but clearly it was the right one.

“Our thoughts are very much with all those fantastic artists, writers, performers and organisations who were working so hard to prepare for another busy festival season.”

Councillor McVey added: “We’ll continue to work with all of our citizens, colleagues and stakeholders to do everything we can to make sure we come through 2020 and look forward to again bringing the world to Edinburgh and Edinburgh to the world for our summer festivals in 2021.”

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