In numbers: How coronavirus has taken its toll on Scotland

We take a look at the statistics showing Covid-19's spread throughout the country.

Coronavirus: More than 18,000 confirmed cases in Scotland. STV News
Coronavirus: More than 18,000 confirmed cases in Scotland.

On March 1, 2020, the first case of coronavirus in Scotland was confirmed.

As cases began to climb, the deaths began, with the first in Scotland confirmed in the Lothian area on March 13.

Society has been transformed by the global Covid-19 pandemic and the measures put in place to control the disease.

Here, we take a look at the statistics which show how the virus has spread throughout the country.

Covid-19 cases in Scotland

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Confirmed cases of coronavirus in Scotland quickly rose as the pandemic spread in March.

In the first week of April, the rolling seven-day average of daily infections was 315.

Cases peaked in late April and then began to fall, with the daily total falling to an average of as low as nine in early July.

However, since then – as lockdown has eased and testing has ramped up – infections have begun to rise, in part due to local outbreaks in places like Aberdeen, Tayside and the west of Scotland.

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The spread of the virus has accelerated rapidly in September and October, with new daily cases up to a seven-day average of 1102 as of Sunday, October 18.

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland
Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland

*Cases on October 18 (a total of 316) were artificially low due to delays with test processing.

NB: From June 15, thousands of new cases were added to the official figures from UK Government-managed drive-through test centres.

Case data before that only counted results from NHS labs, therefore it is no longer included in our cumulative graph.

What is going on with coronavirus cases and tests? Read now

Covid-19 positivity rate

Since July 23, the Scottish Government has begun providing data on the so-called “positivity rate” in Scotland.

This refers to the daily percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus out of all newly-tested individuals.

Nicola Sturgeon has said it is among the first statistics she looks at each day when considering the latest data, as case numbers and testing numbers become increasingly variable.

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland
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The World Health Organisation’s advice is that if a country is keeping its positivity rate below 5%, broadly, it means it is keeping its Covid epidemic under control.

However, this depends greatly on the quality and quantity of testing a country is carrying out.

Covid-19 deaths in Scotland

There are two different sets of figures tallying coronavirus deaths in Scotland, which can be confusing.

Every day, the Scottish Government publishes figures on deaths produced by Health Protection Scotland (HPS).

These only include confirmed Covid-19 cases who died within 28 days of a positive test.

Every week, National Records of Scotland (NRS) publishes the numbers of everyone who has died with Covid-19 cited on their death certificate – including both confirmed and suspected cases.

Suspected cases include those who either didn’t have a test, or who died after the 28-day period following their test.

In order to arrive at the most up-to-date total possible, STV combines the weekly figures with the most recent daily figures.

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland / National Records of Scotland

Hospital and ICU admissions

Figures on the numbers of Scots in hospital and intensive care with coronavirus have recently been refined.

Now, they only count people who recently tested positive for coronavirus.

That’s because long-term hospital patients, who may have tested positive for Covid some time ago but are now being treated for different things, were being counted in the totals.

Despite this more restrictive approach, the numbers in hospitals have been steadily marching upwards in September and October.

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland

During the first spike of coronavirus, older figures which combined both confirmed and suspected cases show a peak in Scotland’s ICUs on April 12, with 221 admissions.

The highest number of patients in Scottish hospitals overall occurred on April 21, when 1866 people were being treated for confirmed or suspected cases of the virus.

Hospital and ICU admissions for confirmed or suspected Covid-19: March 18 – July 21

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland

Recoveries

The Scottish Government began in April giving figures on how many people hospitalised with coronavirus have been able to go home since the pandemic began.

Since March 5, nearly 5000 confirmed Covid-19 patients have been discharged from hospitals around Scotland to continue their recovery.

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland

In August, the figure outstripped the number of people who have died with the virus in Scotland (confirmed and suspected).

Coronavirus testing

The Scottish Government says a policy of test, trace, isolate – dubbed “test and protect” – is crucial as lockdown restrictions ease and officials attempt to handle a second spike of Covid-19.

In March, policy in Scotland and the UK turned away from testing every suspected case, against the advice of the World Health Organisation.

How will Scotland’s coronavirus test-and-trace system work? Read now

But that changed again in late May when the government started asking anyone who developed Covid-19 symptoms – a cough, a fever or a loss of smell or taste – to immediately book a test.

The Scottish Government has been ramping up mass testing and claims the country now has total testing capacity of 40,000 per day, combining NHS labs and the UK Government-managed Lighthouse super-lab in Glasgow.

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland
Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland

About 900,000 Scots have now been tested for coronavirus – a figure which has doubled in around seven weeks, showing the scale at which Covid testing capability has been built up.

Excess deaths

Over April to June, total deaths in Scotland were about a third higher than the five-year average, with 83% of those fatalities linked to coronavirus.

Comparing actual deaths in a country over a week or a month to the average for that period is how what is known as excess mortality is calculated.

In each week of April, when the coronavirus death toll in Scotland reached its shocking peak, excess deaths were 646, 878, 849 and 749 respectively – or more than 3100 over that month alone.

But from late June, mortality rates fell back into rough alignment with the five-year average.

Chart: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

Given different countries tally up coronavirus deaths in different ways, many experts believe excess deaths are a more stable way to compare how countries have fared during the pandemic.

Scotland has had the second highest number excess deaths of the four UK nations, behind England, and the third highest toll in Europe, behind England and Spain.

Coronavirus deaths in care homes

A total of 46% of all coronavirus-linked deaths have occurred in care homes.

Chart: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

They account for slightly less than deaths in hospitals (47%), while fewer than one in ten (7%) died at home, a non-institutional setting or another institutional setting.

Coronavirus in schools

Since pupils went back to full-time education in mid-August, much attention has been focused on cases in schools.

Community flare-ups of the virus and some small clusters in and around schools have seen pupils and school staff test positive for the virus, sometimes causing whole classes to self-isolate.

But broadly speaking, even with far more children and young people being tested for the virus, case numbers among pupils have stayed relatively low.

The Scottish Government has been tracking the number of pupil absences Monday to Friday due to reasons related to Covid.

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland

The factors that could cause Covid-related absence include self-isolation due to having the virus or symptoms or a classmate having the virus.

But they also could refer to pupils having to quarantine due to coming back from holidays to certain countries, or because their parents have pulled them out of school against public health guidance.

Health boards

Covid-19 cases by health board

The most confirmed Covid-19 cases in Scotland are in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, with more than 15,000.

Those cases have shot up by more than 5000 in the last fortnight, with other areas in the central belt like Lanarkshire, Lothian and Ayrshire also hotspots.

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland

The least amount of confirmed cases are on Orkney (26) and the Western Isles (62).

Note: All graphs and tables beyond this point were last updated on October 14.

National Records of Scotland now updates them on a monthly basis, and the next update is November 11.

Deaths by health board

There have been 1365 deaths of confirmed or suspected Covid-19 cases in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, followed by Lothian on 743 and Lanarkshire on 609.

NHS Western Isles has recorded zero deaths so far, while there have been two on Orkney and seven in the Shetland Islands.

Chart: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

Death rate per 10,000 of population

In June, the National Records of Scotland began publishing new data giving the age-standardised death rates in health board areas.

They are considered more accurate than crude death rates where deaths and population size are measured against each other.

Instead, age-standardised death rates adjust for age demographics in the population, for example, if there are more older people or more younger people within the population compared to others.

Chart: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

Between March 1 and September 30, the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region had the highest death rate, with 23 deaths per 10,000 people.

Lanarkshire had the next highest, on 18, while Lothian, Forth Valley, Ayrshire and Arran, Tayside and Borders all had an age-standardised Covid death rates in double figures.

Covid-19 deaths by council area

West Dunbartonshire has the highest age-standardised death rate in the country, with a rate of nearly three residents per 1000, or 27 per 10,000, dying with the virus.

Other local authority areas with high death rates – typically ones with urban populations and substantial pockets of poverty – include Glasgow, Midlothian, Inverclyde and Dundee.

Ten highest death rates per 10,000

Chart: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

Remote and rural areas typically had the lowest age-standardised death rates, with a rate of three deaths per 10,000 in Highland and Moray and four in Dumfries and Galloway

In Shetland, where there have been seven deaths, Orkney, with two deaths, and Western Isles, where there have been zero, no death rate has been calculated.

Chart: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

In terms of sheer numbers, a total of 666 Glasgow residents have died with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 – the highest in Scotland – with 432 in Edinburgh.

There have been been at least 100 deaths reported in 18 of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas.

Table: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

Covid-19 deaths by age and gender

More than three quarters of coronavirus-linked deaths (76%) in Scotland are of people over 75.

Of that age group, 55% of deaths are women, rising to 62% in the over-85s category, which reflects the fact the elderly population has more women than men.

Overall, there is a 50/50 split between men and women in terms of the proportion of Covid-19 deaths, with slightly more women dying (2162 to 2139 men).

But among people aged 45 to 74, nearly twice as many men as women have died (65% to 35%).

Table: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

A total of 29 people aged 15 to 44 have died with confirmed or suspected coronavirus in Scotland so far – 14 male and 15 female.

Man charged and due in court over death of teenager Amber Gibson

The 16-year-old was reported missing from Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, after failing to return home last Friday night.

Police Scotland
Police: A suspect has been charged in connection with the death of Amber Gibson.

A man has been charged and is due in court in connection with the death of 16-year-old Amber Gibson.

The teenager was reported missing from Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, after failing to return home last Friday night.

Her body was eventually discovered in the town’s Cadzow Glen park on Sunday morning.

Amber’s death was initially treated as unexplained, but police later launched a murder inquiry following a post-mortem examination.

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On Wednesday evening, Police Scotland confirmed a 19-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the death.

On Thursday, a force spokesperson confirmed the suspect had now been charged and is due to appear at Hamilton Sheriff Court on Friday.

They said: “Police Scotland can confirm that the 19-year-old man who had been arrested last night, Wednesday, December 1, has now been charged.

“A report will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal.”

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Family of mother who died after M9 crash awarded more than £1m

Lamara Bell died in hospital after lying undiscovered at side of motorway for three days.

Police Scotland
John Yuill and Lamara Bell died after their car left the M9 near Stirling.

The family of a young mother who died after lying undiscovered in a car for days following a crash on the M9 has been awarded more than £1m in damages.

Lamara Bell and her partner John Yuill both died after their car left the motorway near Stirling on July 5, 2015.

Despite a call being made to police, it took three days for the force to respond and when officers finally arrived at the scene, Yuill was found to be dead while Bell died four days later in hospital.

In a statement, the Bell family said: “Imagine chasing answers, recognition and justice for six years and all you get is silence then in the space of three months you get a conviction and a civil settlement – it is fair say our thoughts and feelings are all over the place right now.

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“Our pain and loss won’t stop just because the legal proceedings are over but there is at least a sense of peace that comes with their conclusion.

“But that peace is fleeting because ultimately we are still without Lamara.

“We are without a daughter and sister and her children are without a mother – such an outcome cannot, and should not ever, go unheeded in a fair society and we are glad to finally have attained that which we sought.

“We’d like to thank our friends, family, community and legal team for all their support but now we really would like to be left alone as we look to the future.”

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Police Scotland was fined £100,000 earlier this year after admitting failings which “materially contributed” to the deaths of Bell and Yuill.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard in September that Bell would probably have survived had she had been found sooner.

Delivering the sentence, Lord Beckett said: “This case arose from terrible events in which two relatively young people died, one of them after days of severe physical suffering when she must have been in an almost unimaginable state of anxiety.

“As days and hours went by she must have been in a state of disbelief that no help arose.”

Lord Beckett said it was “unprecedented” for the police service of Scotland to have been accused and convicted in the High Court.

The office of the Chief Constable of Police Scotland admitted it failed to ensure that people, including Yuill and Bell, were not exposed to risks to their health and safety by failing to provide an “adequate and reliable call-handling system” between April 1 2013 and March 1 2016.

It also failed to ensure the system was “not vulnerable to unacceptable risks arising from human error” and to ensure that all relevant information reported by members of the public was recorded on a Police Scotland IT system so that it could be considered and a police response provided where appropriate.

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The force admitted that as a result, members of the public were exposed to risks to their health and safety and, in particular, on July 5, 2015, a police officer at the force call-handling centre at Bilston Glen Service Centre failed to record a phone call from a member of the public reporting that a vehicle was at the bottom of an embankment at the side of the eastbound junction nine slip road from the M80 on to the M9.

The phone call was not recorded on any Police Scotland IT system and no action was taken.

The force admitted Bell and Yuill remained “unaided and exposed to the elements” in the car between July 5 and 8, 2015, and that the failings “materially contributed” to Bell’s death on July 12 that year at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

The force pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

David Nellaney, Partner at Digby Brown, added: “The Bell family has endured things very few people could ever comprehend but the patience, resilience and compassion they have shown at all times cannot be understated.

“It is unfortunate Police Scotland did not admit its failings sooner as it might have spared them unnecessary distress but at least we do now have a conclusion and the Bells can rightly focus on themselves and times ahead.”


Two men charged over death of cyclist who disappeared four years ago

Tony Parsons' remains were discovered more than three years after he disappeared.

Police Scotland / Mrdoomits via IStock
Police: Tony Parsons' remains were discovered more than three years after he disappeared.

Two men have been arrested and charged in connection with the death of a cyclist who disappeared more than four years ago.

Anthony Parsons, also known as Tony, travelled from his home in Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire, to Fort William in the Highlands for a charity cycle on September 29, 2017, but failed to return home.

The 63-year-old former Navy petty officer travelled south on the A82 and was last seen on October 2 at around 11.30pm outside the Bridge of Orchy Hotel, Argyll and Bute.

On January 12 this year, specialist search officers, supported by forensic scientists, discovered his remains in a remote area of ground close to a farm near the A82 at Bridge of Orchy.

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On Thursday, Police Scotland confirmed that two 29-year-old men had been arrested and charged in connection with Mr Parsons’ death.

The suspects are due to appear at Dumbarton Sheriff Court in West Dunbartonshire later on Thursday.

Detective inspector John McFall, of the Major Investigations Team and who led the inquiry team, said: “I would like to offer my thanks to the local community for all their help and assistance throughout this investigation and to those who came forward with significant information.”

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Military deployed to help in aftermath of Storm Arwen

Around 120 troops will 'focus on welfare checks on the ground' in communities still impacted by loss of power.

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Storm Arwen uprooted trees and ripped down power lines.

More than 100 soldiers are being deployed to assist people still without power in Aberdeenshire following the devastation caused by Storm Arwen.

Troops will start arriving in affected communities on Thursday morning after the local authority made a formal approach to the UK Government requesting assistance.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has reconnected more than 120,000 customers following “catastrophic damage” caused by Friday’s storm, and hoped to restore power to an additional 2500 homes overnight.

The majority of those still without supply are in rural communities in areas including Aberdeenshire, Moray, Angus, Perthshire and Stirlingshire.

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A spokesperson for Aberdeenshire Council said around 120 military personnel are due to arrive in the area “to support our ongoing resilience efforts in the aftermath of Storm Arwen”.  

The spokesperson added: “The troops will focus on welfare checks on the ground within those communities still impacted by loss of power and will supplement what our own teams have been doing since the weekend.  

“We continue to appreciate all the wonderful examples of community assistance which continue to be evident across the region – whether it be supplies of hot food and drinks, checking on elderly residents and neighbours or helping to deliver supplies.  

“Thank you for your all your endeavours and rest assured we continue to work tirelessly to provide the support our communities require at this challenging time.”

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SSEN has said it will reimburse all reasonable accommodation costs for any customer unable to make alternative arrangements.

Customers unable to access the company’s welfare facilities for free hot food and drinks can also claim the cost of takeaways or meals from local establishments, up to £15 per person.

Chris Burchell, SSEN managing director, described Storm Arwen as a “once in a generation extreme weather event” and said the company was doing all it could to restore power “as quickly as possible”.

He added: “As our teams continue to make good progress repairing and restoring the high voltage network in what remains very challenging conditions, we are increasingly turning our focus to the low voltage network, which serves single or groups of homes, often in rural and isolated communities.

“Whilst the low voltage network only serves a fraction of the customers the high voltage network supplies, the repairs required to restore power are just as challenging and complex, which in some cases will require the rebuild of entire sections of overhead line.

“We therefore encourage all customers who remain off supply, particularly where overhead network infrastructure supplies single or small groups of houses, to consider making alternative arrangements.

“This includes our enhanced welfare provisions, with our teams proactively contacting customers to help coordinate support where possible.”

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‘Right to die when I want would be the greatest gift of all’

Kay Smith is terminally ill and backs a change in the law to allow assisted dying.

STV News

“It would be the greatest gift that the people of Scotland could give to those whose voices are not being heard.”

Kay Smith is talking about the right to die at a time of her choosing, surrounded by her family and having said a proper goodbye.

The 57-year-old used to relish adventure, with a passion for scuba diving in exotic locations around the world, but she is now living with a range of debilitating illnesses and her life has changed beyond recognition. 

Kay’s medical notes describe “multiple comorbidities” – she has an extreme form of lupus, which attacks the immune system and has led to other complicated conditions, including peripheral artery disease and diabetes.

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Also allergic to painkillers, she expects to die from sepsis, or blood poisoning, which can be caused by lupus.

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Kay Smith is passionate about ending her life on her own terms.

Having seen so many deaths in her career as a palliative care nurse, she’s passionate about ending her life on her own terms and is backing a change to the law that would allow assisted dying.

“I have daughters, I have my husband, I have my grandchildren, I don’t want to watch them watch me suffer and die from sepsis, because it’s a horrendous way to die,” Kay, from Kilwinning, tells Thursday night’s episode of STV current affairs show Scotland Tonight.

“The public has to realise that [if] the law’s passed, it doesn’t mean to say you use it. It’s a personal choice, but in choosing, it gives you peace of mind and allows you to live the best life you can until that moment arrives.

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“And that to me is priceless, I could have quality time with my family and be able to say my goodbyes.  

“As a nurse and as a person in my situation [a change in the law] will be sheer and utter relief.” 

A third attempt to legalise assisted dying, this time drafted by Liberal Democrats MSP Liam McArthur, is currently going through its consultation stage.

His proposal argues that terminally ill, mentally competent adults should be able to access “safe and compassionate dying if they choose, rather than face a prolonged and painful death”. It says the proposal aims to “complement palliative care”. 

‘Improve end-of-life care instead’

But opponents say that rather than change the law, palliative care should be improved to help those at the end of their lives.  

Dr Gillian Wright is part of Our Duty of Care, an organisation made up of healthcare workers who are opposed to assisted dying laws. 

The group has written a letter to health secretary Humza Yousaf, outlining their main concerns. 

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“Our principal concerns are for vulnerable members of society, particularly those who are disabled, those who are terminally ill, those who are depressed,” says Dr Wright, a former palliative care doctor.

“It’s a huge thing for doctors to change from preserving life to taking life, and that’s the fundamental objection we have.

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Dr Gillian Wright is among medics opposed to assisted dying.

“We felt it was really important that there was a clear medical voice of opposition against assisted dying.

“And rather than say to people when you’re giving them a terminal diagnosis that the state would help them take their own life, we should as a society be backing really excellent palliative care research.”  

Dr Wright says there are concerns that if a law is passed, the legislation could be extended in the future and believes vulnerable patients would be most at risk. 

“If you look at an example such as Canada, they introduced legislation similar to what he is proposing – for terminally ill, mentally competent adults – but already, within five years, it has been challenged in the courts for being discriminatory,” she says.

“I think the current law [in Scotland] is the safeguard, it is the protection of the vulnerable. I would be really concerned for patients such as dementia, for children, for adolescents that we would be in a situation where we can’t come back from.”

Scotland Tonight is on STV and the STV Player at 7.30pm on Thursday, December 2.


White nationalist who threatened to set fire to mosque jailed

Sam Imrie from Fife was sentenced to seven and a half years for terrorist offences on Thursday.

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Jailed: Sam Imrie sentenced to seven and a half years for terrorist offences.

A white nationalist who idolised right-wing mass killers and hated Muslims has been jailed for a total of seven and a half years for terrorist offences.

On Thursday, Sam Imrie was sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow for what a judge described as the “despicable spreading of hate”.

The 24-year-old had been arrested in July 2019 after he posted messages on social media saying he was planning to set fire to the Fife Islamic Centre in Glenrothes.

Police discovered he had been “glorifying” murderers online – including terrorist Anders Brevik, who slaughtered 77 people in Norway in 2011.

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Officers also seized a terrifying arsenal of weapons at his home in Glenrothes consisting of knives, a hammer, nunchucks, an axe and a rifle scope.

Imrie was convicted of two charges of breaching the terrorism act, wilful fire raising, possessing child and “extreme” pornography and drink-driving following a trial in Edinburgh in October.

Lord Mulholland told him: “You posted on a neo-Nazi chatroom your hatred of Muslim, Jews, black people and refugees.

“You revered neo-Nazi and white supremacists. You lauded their crimes against innocent people.

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“You were spreading hate and encouraging others to take terrorist action that you pretended you had.

“Your conduct was despicable. You have no understanding or self-awareness of the hatred that you tried to spread.

“Many Muslims died fighting for the alliance in World War Two for the freedoms that you enjoyed.

“I hope you take advantage of your time in custody to remove the hatred from your heart.”

Imrie showed no emotion as he was led back to the cells, other than to wave to his mother in the public benches.

Jurors heard how Imrie was a loner and had developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after being assaulted when he was younger.

He became “steeped” in right-wing ideology and started to “hate” Muslims after looking at extremist content on websites such as 8Chan and messaging app Telegram.

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Imrie posted online: “All my heroes are mass murderers.”

His Snapchat username was “N*****killer1488”.

As well as idolising Brevik, Imrie was also fascinated with Brenton Tarrant, who killed Muslims praying at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in March 2019.

Imrie was said to have wanted Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon “to die” because of her attitudes to immigration.

His arrest came after the Metropolitan Police in London infiltrated the “FashWave Artists” group on Telegram, on which Imrie posted messages, images, videos and gifs.

He had posted a series of messages claiming he was going to “burn down” a mosque and live stream it.

The Met contacted Police Scotland and Imrie was held in early July 2019.

The trial heard he went to the Islamic Centre in Glenrothes, but did not do anything.

Imrie instead went to dilapidated Strathmore Lodge, in Thornton, Fife, and set fire to a doorway. 

He filmed it and claimed to the group it was a mosque or Islamic centre.

Jurors heard he ended up being “ridiculed” by the online audience.

Imrie had denied the crimes. It was claimed his comments were a joke and that he was not serious about torching a mosque.

But, he was convicted of a terrorism charge of making statements on Telegram and Facebook which encouraged acts of terrorism.

A second charge stated Imrie made a “record of information” which would be useful to somebody who was committing acts of terrorism.

He was acquitted of a terrorism charge which stated that he engaged in conduct in “preparation” of terrorism acts.

Police also confiscated a USB stick from Imrie. The images contained “extreme” pornographic images, which he was further convicted of.

Jim Keegan QC, defending, said: “He wrote to his mother to apologise for his behaviour.

“He gave evidence during the trial…he accepts his behaviour was inappropriate, stupid, vile.”

Imrie was also put on the sex offenders list for ten years.

He was also given a five-year serious crime prevention order designed to tackle and monitor criminals when they are freed.


Scotland’s tenth Omicron case has no ‘direct link’ to previous nine

All previous known cases of the latest coronavirus variant were all connected to a single event held on November 20.

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Coronavirus: Ten people have tested for positive for the Omicron variant in Scotland.

Scotland has recorded a tenth positive Omicron case which has no direct link to the previous nine, the government confirmed.

All previous known cases of the latest coronavirus variant were connected to a single event held on November 20.

On Thursday Public Health Scotland revealed a new case has been identified in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region.

All known cases so far have come within the Lanarkshire and Greater Glasgow areas.

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Close contacts of suspected Omicron cases will be advised to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The individual affected is in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area and while there is no direct link with the event on the 20th November which connected the previous nine cases, investigations are ongoing.

“As First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told parliament on Tuesday, it was already suspected that some degree of community transmission of this variant was taking place in Scotland.

“However, there is no indication as yet that transmission of the new variant is either sustained or widespread.

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“Public Health Scotland is working hard to identify any and all cases of Omicron in Scotland as quickly as possible.

“This enhanced surveillance gives us the best possible chance of identifying cases quickly, breaking transmission chains and containing spread while we learn more about this variant.”

The Scottish Government said that vaccination is the “most important line of defence” and also urged people to comply “rigorously” with all the protections currently in place to stem transmission.

The First Minister has said she is not asking people to put Christmas plans on hold at the moment following the emergence of the Omicron variant but she urged people to take a lateral flow test before mixing with other households.

Booster vaccinations are being extended to all those aged 18 and the interval between the second and third dose is being cut from six to three months after a recommendation from the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.


Government secures 114 million Covid jabs for future booster campaigns

The deals include access to modified vaccines if they are needed to combat Omicron and future variants of concern.

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Vaccination experts advising the Government have expressed preference for the mRNA vaccines – Pfizer and Moderna.

Covid-19 vaccines for potential booster campaigns in the next two years have been secured by ministers.

Some scientists have suggested that Covid-19 will need to be kept at bay with repeated vaccination campaigns while others have said it is too early to tell whether annual boosters will be needed.

While there is uncertainty over the need for future campaigns, the Government announced that it has signed deals for 114 million Moderna and Pfizer jabs which will be delivered in 2022 and 2023.

Health secretary Sajid Javid said the deals “future proof” the country’s vaccine programme.

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They include 60 million additional doses of the Moderna vaccine and 54 million more Pfizer/BioNTech doses.

The Department of Health and Social Care said the deals include access to modified vaccines if they are needed to combat Omicron and future variants of concern.

It said the new deals are in addition to 35 million additional doses of Pfizer/BioNTech ordered in August for delivery in the second half of next year, and the 60 million Novavax and 7.5 million GSK/Sanofi doses expected in 2022.

The department said the Government already has enough supply of both Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech for the expanded booster programme.

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It comes after officials announced that all adults in the UK would be offered a booster shot before the end of January amid growing concerns about the Omicron variant.

Vaccination experts advising the Government have expressed preference for the mRNA vaccines – Pfizer and Moderna.

Trial data suggests booster doses are generally well tolerated and provide a substantial increase in vaccine-induced immune responses, in particular, and that mRNA vaccines provide a strong booster effect.

Javid said: “Thanks to the Vaccines Taskforce, we have an excellent track record of securing the vaccines the country needs to keep this virus at bay.

“These new deals will future proof the Great British vaccination effort – which has so far delivered more than 115 million first, second and booster jabs across the UK – and will ensure we can protect even more people in the years ahead.

“This is a national mission and our best weapon to deal with this virus and its variants is to get jabs in arms – so when you are called forward, get the jab and get boosted.”

But the announcement comes as global health leaders have questioned the UK’s booster campaign.

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Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organisation’s health emergencies programme, said he is not aware of any evidence that would suggest offering booster jabs to the entire population gives any greater protection to healthy people.

Asked about the acceleration of the UK’s booster programme, he told a press briefing: “It’s tough for some countries who have huge amounts of excess vaccine to decide who to give it to, but that’s not the problem being faced by a lot of countries around the world who can’t get even primary vaccination to their most vulnerable, so it’s a luxurious position to be in if you’re in a position to be able to have enough vaccine to do that.”

He added: “The primary objective, I think of all governments, now must be, in the face of Delta and Omicron and others, is to ensure that all vulnerable individuals, people of older age, people with underlying conditions, are immediately offered the vaccine to ensure that everyone has had at least a primary course of vaccine.

“There are others here who can better answer than me regarding the benefits of a booster regarding other variants, but right now there is no evidence that I’m aware of that would suggest that boosting the entire population is going to necessarily provide any greater protection for otherwise healthy individuals against hospitalisation or death.

“The real risk of severe disease, hospitalisation, and death lies in particularly at risk and vulnerable individuals who do require protection against all variants of Covid-19.”


Plan to revive former fabrication site to create 4500 jobs

Ardersier Port, near Inverness, could become a hub for manufacturing offshore wind turbine parts.

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The plans include a floating wind manufacturing hub for concrete foundations.

Plans to build floating wind turbines by recycling redundant oil platforms could create 4500 jobs in the Highlands.

The project would breathe life into the former fabrication yard at Ardersier near Inverness.

Work is due to get underway in the next fortnight beginning with dredging along the 400-acre site’s banks on the Moray Firth coastline at a cost of £20m.

Some 2.5 million cubic metres of sand – equivalent to 1000 Olympic swimming pools – will be removed.

STV News
Ardersier Port co-owner Steve Regan.
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A new slipway will be created along with a £300m steel mill and a concrete production plant.

The plans include a floating wind manufacturing hub for concrete foundations.

About 300 people will be employed locally for early construction work on the UK’s largest brownfield port.

Ardersier Port co-owner Steve Regan acknowledged that a disproportionate number of jobs connected with UK renewables construction contracts had previously gone abroad.

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He said: “The UK, and it’s been widely documented, missed the last opportunity. We have another opportunity now.

“As a country, we have our ten-point plan for industrial revolution. We’re developing the right projects, the floating wind projects as an example. And, in Ardersier, we have a place where we can physically undertake the work.”

The project is a joint initiative by Ardersier Port’s joint owners, Mr Regan and Tony O’Sullivan, and floating wind specialists BW Ideol.

The partners will recycle dredged sand as aggregate for concrete production, recycle steel from decommissioned oil rigs as reinforcement for concrete floating wind foundations and generate energy from waste.

The steel mill – the UK’s first for 50 years – will be powered by energy from existing offshore wind turbines.

Mr Regan said the initial outlay is private finance but that public funding would be sought at a later stage.

The site – previously McDermott’s – employed more than 4000 people in the 1970s and 80s.

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Senior Highland councillor Jimmy Gray, a union leader who worked at the yard as a welder between 1975 and 2000, is optimistic the fresh investment will result in Scotland getting a bigger slice of the renewables cake in terms of jobs and financial return.

He said: “We have the yard, we’ve got the skills base. And we’re seeing many of the structures that are going now for renewables offshore and all the structures onshore being done elsewhere.

“It’s quite incredible to think that opportunities are being missed.”

Community leaders in the area are watching closely.

Local Highland councillor Trish Robertson said: “It’s badly needed. It will mean good, well paid jobs.

“They’re telling me that they won’t be short-term contracts, they’ll be full-time contracts. It all sounds very, very positive.

“Their aim is to have nothing moved off-site, so there will be no waste from the site. Everything will be re-used. That’s a huge ambition and I’m all in favour of it.”


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