Coronavirus updates as they happened – Wednesday, April 8.

Today's latest coronavirus news and updates from across Scotland as it happens.

Coronavirus: Wednesday's latest updates. Pixabay
Coronavirus: Wednesday's latest updates.

7.30pm: First Scots NHS worker dies

A district nurse from Inverclyde has become the first NHS worker in Scotland to die from coronavirus.

Janice Graham, coronavirus.
Nurse: Janice Graham passed away on Monday.

Janice Graham, 58, was described as a “beautiful woman with the biggest heart” by her heartbroken friends.

Ms Graham, a health care support worker and district nurse, died at Inverclyde Royal Hospital due to Covid-19 on Monday.

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6.30pm: FM to take questions from party leaders in virtual session

Nicola Sturgeon will take questions from party leaders in a virtual question and answer session on Thursday.

It will go ahead at 12.30pm and is expected to last for around 40 minutes.

The First Minister said it would replace the usual coronavirus briefing – which is held daily.

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It is expected that the session will mirror the first part of the First Minister’s Questions, where Ms Sturgeon takes questions from her opposite numbers.

5.45pm: New rules ‘could prevent prisoners from keeping clean’

New guidance issued to governors could prevent Scottish prisoners from keeping themselves clean during the coronavirus outbreak, opposition parties have said.

Changes to the rules around prisoners and young offenders mean they are entitled to showers at least “twice a week” as opposed to the current rules allowing showers at least once every other day.

Books and newspapers could also be restricted during the Covid-19 outbreak, as well as other activities, recreation and counselling.

MSPs were notified of the new rules on Tuesday.

Scottish Labour said prisoners must be treated with dignity during the pandemic.

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The party’s justice spokesman James Kelly said: “The World Health Organisation has made clear that prisons must ensure that the human rights of those in their custody are protected when implementing measures to deal with coronavirus, and that they should not be cut off from the outside world and retain access to information and healthcare.

“These new powers raise concerns that this may not be the case on the Scottish prison estate.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur MSP added: “It’s hard to see how preventing prisoners from showering will help slow the spread of this virus.

“Prisons face particular difficulties in terms of containing and responding to the virus, while healthcare provision that was already under stress becomes even more so in the context of over-crowding and self-isolation.

“In the midst of this crisis, prisoners still deserve to be treated with compassion and dignity.”

5.20pm: Government unveils £750m support package for charities

Charities struggling during the coronavirus pandemic will be given a £750m bailout to keep them afloat, the Chancellor has announced.

Rishi Sunak said charities, including those supporting domestic abuse victims and hospices, will receive cash grants to ensure they can meet increased demand as a result of the virus.

Some £360m direct from Government departments will go to charities providing key services, while smaller charities will benefit from £370m, including through a grant to the National Lottery Community Fund.

The Government has also pledged to match the public’s donations to the National Emergencies Trust, guaranteeing a minimum of £20m.

It will also match fund whatever the public decides to donate to the BBC’s Big Night In charity appeal on April 23.

5.15pm: Prime Minister remains in intensive care

Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care.

At the UK Government’s daily briefing on Wednesday, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said he was “sitting up in bed” and was engaging positively with NHS staff at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

Johnson was taken into intensive care on Monday, a day after going into hospital for treatment to coronavirus.

An official spokesman earlier said he was receiving “standard oxygen treatment” and was “breathing without any other assistance”.

5.10pm: More than 7000 deaths across the UK

A total of 7097 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Tuesday, the Department of Health said, up by 938 from 6159 the day before.

The Department of Health said, as of 9am on Wednesday, 232,708 people have been tested of which 60,733 tested positive.

Overall, 282,074 tests have concluded, with 14,682 tests on Tuesday.

The overall test figure excludes data from Northern Ireland and test data from Charing Cross and Southampton has not been included because of a processing delay, the department added.

5.04pm: FM warns ending lockdown early would be ‘monumental mistake’

Nicola Sturgeon has warned it would be a “monumental mistake” to ease the coronavirus lockdown measures too early and said parents should not expect schools to reopen any time soon.

The First Minister said “prematurely” lifting current restrictions on social distancing and school closures risked undermining efforts to contain the disease and told the public: “We are in this for some time yet.”

Speaking at the daily press briefing in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said: “Obviously we will seek to get back to normal as quickly as possible, but it would be a really monumental mistake for us to lift these measures prematurely because all the hard work people are doing right now would be jeopardised if this virus just got out of control again.

“We will continue to be open with people as our understanding and our decision-making around these things continues to develop, but I will repeat the message today: we are in this for some time yet to come, people have to be prepared to stick with this in order for it to have the impact we want it to have.”

She said she hoped not to have to introduce stricter measures, such as closing public parks, and added that the more people who comply with the guidance, “the quicker we will get to point where we can be starting to lift this”.

On the issue of school closures, Ms Sturgeon acknowledged that many parents and children were eager to return but she said there were no plans to reopen schools after Easter.

4.50pm: 3D printers used to help create protective masks

Staff at Culture Perth and Kinross Libraries have used 3D printers to produce components that will be used to create protective masks for NHS workers.

The printers – bought as part of Leader-funded project Digital Maker_Spaces – were used to make headframes and stiffeners.

Printers: The completed masks will be given to NHS staff.

Working with Men’s Sheds and other partners across the region, these items will have a laminated shield and elastic headband added to them, creating protective masks.

The final product will then be given to the NHS Tayside Testing Centre.

Coronavirus: The 3D printers were used to create headframes and stiffeners.

Jackie Brierton, chair of Rural Perth & Kinross Leader Local Action Group, said: “This is a great repurposing of resources to help combat the coronavirus crisis. 

“We’re delighted that the Leader programme, which is made up of EU and Scottish Government monies, can support Culture Perth and Kinross’ innovative project.  

“The Leader team was able to help the project align the remainder of its funding contribution to respond to the call for help.”

4.32pm: Scottish Parliament explores remote working for MSPs

The Scottish Parliament is exploring remote working in response to the coronavirus outbreak, which could involve party leaders questioning the First Minister virtually on Thursday.

In a letter to MSPs on Wednesday, Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh said the parliamentary bureau – a group of MSPs which decides the business of the parliament – is currently hoping to hold a session similar to First Minister’s Questions.

Testing was due to be undertaken by officials on Wednesday to assess how the process would work.

The Presiding Officer wrote: “Like other legislatures, colleagues here have been very busy in recent weeks examining and testing a range of options for virtual working and I am pleased to say that the progress they are making is very encouraging indeed.

“In the first instance, the Parliamentary Bureau is exploring holding a leaders’ virtual question time where party leaders can question the First Minister.”

If the first session on Thursday worked, the Presiding Officer said there would be scope to allow questions to come from all MSPs in the following weeks.

3.30pm: Emergency funds offered to students during coronavirus outbreak

Richard Lochhead says extra funding for students is being put in place


A £5m package of emergency financial support is being put in place to help students facing hardship as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Extra cash will be available to any university and college students now struggling as a result of COVID-19, including those attending private institutions.

University and college students will be able to apply for any emergency discretionary payments directly to their own institutions.

Further and Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said: “We are ensuring students studying in Scotland should have access to emergency support should they be facing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 or the social distancing and isolation measures that have been introduced.

“All bursaries, grants and loans are continuing to be paid as planned but the current unprecedented situation has resulted in increased hardship.

“That is why we are making extra funding immediately available for students most in need, to help alleviate concerns around accommodation costs, mental health issues, general living costs and wellbeing.

“Institutions will be provided with specific guidance on the discretionary funding related to COVID-19, to explain all relevant details while students can access the latest information on COVID-19 on the Student Information Scotland website.”

3.15pm: Lib Dems say PPE is an “absolute basic”

Following an open letter send to the government expressing serious concerns about supplies of PPE equipment to frontline workers and the quality of that being received which was signed by over 100 medics in Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has issued a statement.

“We are now weeks into this crisis. It’s outrageous that our health professionals are being sent out on the frontline without the protection they need. These supplies are an absolute basic,” he said.

“Medics should not feel the need to turn to the media for their concerns to be listened to. This daily fight for adequate protective equipment is distressing and distracting at a time when it should be all hands on deck. 

“In both primary and community care we need to see high quality supplies getting to the people who need it right now.”

1.15pm: Prime Minister ‘clinically stable’ and responding to treatment.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains ‘clinically stable’ and is responding to treatment.

Downing street say he is in ‘good spirits’ in St Thomas’s hospital in London where he is in intensive care.

Johnson’s official spokesman said: “The Prime Minister remains clinically stable and is responding to treatment.

“He continues to be cared for in the intensive care unit at St Thomas’s Hospital. He’s in good spirits.”


The PM continues to receive “standard oxygen treatment” and is “breathing without any other assistance”, he said.

Downing Street confirmed the PM is not working while in intensive care and thanked the public for messages of support.

Asked if anyone has been in contact, the spokesman said: “The PM is not working, he’s in intensive care, he has the ability to contact those that he needs to, he’s following the advice of his doctors at all times.

“We are hugely grateful for the messages of support that the Prime Minister has received.

“I think the public response to coronavirus throughout has been fantastic and that has been best exemplified by the applause they’ve been giving to NHS staff every week.”

12.58pm: Death toll from coronavirus rises by 70 to 366

The death toll from coronavirus in Scotland has risen by 70 overnight to 366, with more than 4500 confirmed cases, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Total confirmed cases are up by 336 to 4565, while there are 210 patients with Covid-19 in intensive care and 1711 in hospital overall.

It comes as the National Records of Scotland (NRS) published new weekly figures providing more detail on coronavirus-linked deaths.

Speaking at a Scottish Government press briefing on Wednesday, the First Minister confirmed the numbers.

11.51am: Scottish Government responds to ‘grave concerns’ of medics over PPE

The Scottish Government has said that the protection of frontline healthcare workers is the ‘highest priority’ after medics raised ‘grave concerns’ over the issue.

Over 100 medics signed an open letter questioning if protective equipment provided to them was adequate for the job hand.

In response a government spokesperson said: “We attach the highest priority to the protection of our frontline social care and healthcare workers, and the detailed clinical guidance issued last week was jointly prepared by senior expert clinicians across the UK, was jointly agreed by Scotland’s Chief Medical and Nursing officers and contains specific detail about what PPE should be worn, by which staff and when.

“As the Health Secretary announced last week, we have introduced four direct supply lines for PPE, a streamlined ordering system for all staff who need PPE and a new dedicated email address for any health or social care worker who has any concerns about PPE supply to make contact with us immediately. Where we are alerted to any local issue about PPE availability, we act immediately to address these.

“We are clear that appropriate eyewear protection must be provided in accordance with UK four nation guidance. We have adequate supplies of PPE in place and our new supply line measures are ensuring that the right equipment reaches the right locations with the highest possible urgency.

“The Health Secretary had discussions with Andrew Buist and Lewis Morrison of the BMA, last week, on key issues including PPE and will continue to engage with them both regularly during this time.”

11.16am: Glasgow Warriors star returns to NHS as a physio to help fight against covid-19.

Rugby star Petrus de Plessis has announced he will return to the NHS as a physio.

The Glasgow Warriors player-coach, who has been at the club since 2018, made the announcement on Twitter.

The 38-year-old South African has registered as a respiratory physiotherapist in a bid to help the fight against covid-19.

He said: “I’ve registered to go back to the NHS as a respiratory physiotherapist. I strongly believe it’s important to have all hands on deck to overcome this virus!”

10.16am: Pub’s tribute to health workers

Grace’s Bar in the Merchant City area of Glasgow has paid a striking tribute to NHS workers.

The venue, known as a Celtic pub, is closed during lockdown and wanted to brighten its boarded-up windows.

Bar owner Paul Kelly said: “We felt the need to board up the windows as a precaution for extra safety and security and it suddenly hit us that everything we have worked for as a team and a community was in ruins.  

“We could have advertised our venue but that wasn’t right either when there are people out there fighting for their lives and others on the frontline battling this virus.

How the boarded-up windows of Grace’s bar look.

“We are a sports bar, mainly Celtic fans but we have many fans from other teams who visit regularly too and we’ll all really miss the place during this closure.

“However the message is still the same, we want to help remind everyone to stay at home.  It is Easter weekend which is meant to be a holiday, a time of joy and it would be easy to forget our commitments to stay safe, so we wrote this message as a reminder that it is more important than ever to stay home and help in this fight. We are all in this together.”

9.50am: Half of those diagnosed with covid-19 in Forth Valley ‘fully recovered and back home’

Around half of the 243 people who have had a confirmed coronavirus diagnosis in Forth Valley are already fully recovered and back home.

Dr Graham Foster, Forth Valley’s director of public health, said it was important to get the message out that people had been discharged when it was safe to do so.

As the Scottish and UK death tolls rise, and the Prime Minister himself in intensive care, more and more people are facing up to just how deadly covid-19 can be.

And some have been nervous about those who have had the illness returning to their communities.

But Dr Foster said: “We want to be reassuring that these people are not a big infection risk and they don’t need to be treated any differently.

“They will obviously do the self-isolation that everyone else is doing and obey the same rules as everyone else but people don’t need to worry about them.

“People need to get used to the idea that the normal path of covid is that you become unwell for a period of time, usually seven days, and then you are safe after that to be discharged.”

9.27am: Emergency £500 grant available to those impacted by coronavirus

People in financial crisis caused by the ongoing covid-19 pandemic can now receive immediate help in the form of a cash grant.

The initiative comes thanks to the launch of an emergency coronavirus grant fund by national poverty charity, Turn2us.

A one-off crisis grant of £500 will be approved and paid within just three working days of an application, as long as they meet the grant fund’s eligibility criteria.

The grant will not need to be paid back and is intended to be a financial lifeline in a time of crisis.

One million people came to Turn2us for help in the last three weeks alone, representing a 520% increase, and 1800% increase amongst the self-employed.

8.50am: ‘Video visiting’ launched for Western Isles hospitals

A new ‘video visiting’ service is to be launched in the Western Isles on Wednesday, which will enable hospital inpatients and their friends and family to keep in touch via a video link.

In a statement, NHS Western Isles said that since the closure of local hospitals to visitors as a measure to control the spread of Coronavirus, staff had been working on a new system enabling video connections for hospital patients.

The service will initially be available for calls seven days a week between 2pm and 4pm to patients in Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway, with a roll-out of the scheme to all Western Isles hospital sites over the next two weeks currently being considered. Calls will be ten minutes in duration. 

8.46am: Entrepreneur gives £100,000 to fund free meals

Scots entrepreneur Marie Macklin has donated £100,000 to help people in need during the coronavirus outbreak.

She has launched a community fund called Lift Up Your Hearts, which aims to deliver 20,000 free meals.

The project has teamed up with charity Centrestage and company Braehead Foods to prepare and deliver free meals to homes in Kilmarnock and across East Ayrshire.

Marie, who founded the HALO urban regeneration company, said: “It is a very proud day for not just me but everyone at the HALO to see so many people come together to support the Lift Up Your Hearts campaign which we hope will help local communities that need it the most during these unprecedented times.

“I’d like to thank the team at Braehead Foods and everyone at Centrestage for their support and dedication to making the first deliveries of these 20,000 meals happen so quickly.

“I am confident that together we will help as many people as possible get through these difficult times.”

8.32am: Scottish football clubs set for crunch coronavirus talks

Scottish clubs will hold further talks with league officials on Wednesday in a bid to secure more clarity on the fate of the current season.

A number of clubs have already called on the Scottish Professional Football League to declare the standings as they are.

But Hearts have threatened legal action if they are relegated with eight games left and Rangers vowed to challenge any attempt to declare Celtic champions.

8.20am: Medics raise ‘grave concerns’ over protection equipment in open letter to Scottish Government

More than 100 medical professionals have signed an open letter to the Scottish Government raising “grave concerns” over personal protective equipment.

The open letter states that the virus has caused “upheaval” and lives have been “turned upside down” with people suffering from “fear and anxiety”.

It goes on to say that many working for the health service have concerns about the adequacy of the protective equipment needed in the “frontline battle” against an “invisible enemy”.

The medics wrote: “Health care workers are falling ill and dying due to covid-19. We believe it is vital that essential workers are given adequate PPE at the very least, to protect themselves and in-turn their patients from this new virus.”

7.50am: UK coronavirus strategy questioned

Questions have been asked over the UK’s covid-19 strategy in the absence of the Prime Minister who remains in intensive care with the virus.

Concerns were raised over when the lockdown measures will be reviewed – and leading officials have admitted the UK has “a lot to learn” from Germany’s expansive testing scheme.

Earlier, foreign secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising in Boris Johnson’s absence, suggested the review of the lockdown announced by the PM when he set out the restrictions would not go ahead on Monday as scheduled.

7.35am: Prime Minister spends second night in intensive care

Boris Johnson spent second night in intensive care.

Boris Johnson has spent a second night in intensive care being treated for Covid-19.

Downing Street said the PM’s condition remained “stable” on Tuesday night as they confirmed he would be staying in St Thomas’s hospital for “close monitoring”.

The 55-year-old is said to be in “good spirits”.

7.05am: Report warns that GDP could shrink by 25% if lockdown continues

The Scottish economy could contract by up to a quarter if the current lockdown restrictions continue for a three-month period, according to the Fraser of Allander Institute.

The report from the economic research institute at Strathclyde University found there is likely to be “a long road to recovery” from the “unprecedented” impact on GDP from the coronavirus pandemic.

The estimates are predicted on a three month period of restrictions and are not an “exact prediction for growth” in Q2 of 2020, but “simply an illustration of the scale of the shock” to the economy.

The report adds that “it might be many months or even years before we actually know the full extent of the effect of the shut down on the Scottish economy”.

7am: Jobs market sees greatest drop in permanent starts since global crash

Permanent job appointments across Scotland in March fell at the fastest rate since the global financial crash, according to a study.

The latest Royal Bank of Scotland figures show the country saw the steepest decline last month in these job starts since April 2009, with a drop of 10.7 points from the “no change” base rate of 50.

Permanent job placements in April 2009 had a rating of 33.6, some 16.4 points below the 50 standard.

Temporary billings also fell 19.3 points – the steepest rate on record – as the Scottish jobs market was hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Serious injuries after train derails in Aberdeenshire

Huge emergency response after train comes off the track on the Dundee-Aberdeen line.

A train has derailed in Aberdeenshire after a night of flash flooding.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said there have been “serious injuries”, while Aberdeen Royal Infirmary has declared a major incident.

The train involved was the 6.38am Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street service run by ScotRail.

The five-carriage train came off the tracks just before 10am, close to the old Carmont station, near Stonehaven.

An air ambulance has been coming and going from the scene. Pic: Newsline
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Network Rail reported a landslip at Carmont earlier on Wednesday morning.

A number of ambulances, including a helicopter, are on the scene, alongside police and fire engines.

Stonehaven train derailed.
Smoke could be seen billowing from the train. Pic: STV News

Huge plumes of smoke could be seen billowing from the train.

Scottish transport secretary Michael Matheson said gaining access to the scene had proved “challenging” for emergency services.

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Sturgeon said there had been “an extremely serious incident” and that her “thoughts are with all those involved”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “saddened” and thanked emergency services.

There has been travel disruption across the country after a night of torrential rain.

ScotRail said it was working with the emergency services, while an inspector from the Rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is travelling to the site.

A British Transport Police (BTP) spokesperson said: “Officers are currently responding to an incident on the line in Stonehaven.

“We were called at 9.43am, and are on scene alongside paramedics and the fire brigade.”

Network Rail Scotland is also working alongside the emergency services.

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A spokesperson said: “It is too early to confirm the exact nature and severity of the incident and more details will be made available once known.”

Rescuers make their way to the train. Pic: Newsline

The Scottish Ambulance Service said a number of resources were on the scene.

A spokesperson said: “We currently have multiple resources in attendance at a train derailment near Stonehaven, including six ambulances, our special operations response teams, air ambulance, patient transport vehicles and the SCOTSTAR emergency service.”

Local MP Andrew Bowie had been in Stonehaven surveying the flood damage earlier on Wednesday.

He said: “The situation was really bad this morning, the River Carron, the main river which flows through it, had burst its banks and the heavy rain had caused flooding in the centre of Stonehaven and lots of the side streets leading off it.

“Luckily, the water receded incredibly quickly and the river has peaked and is going down.”

“Obviously none of us expected there to be such a serious incident as a rail derailment at the same time, but it just goes to show how damaging the bad weather can be.”

The rail union RMT said it was working to support members involved in the incident.

Senior assistant general secretary Mick Lynch said: “RMT is aware of the major incident at Stonehaven and our reps are liaising directly at senior level with both ScotRail and Network Rail.

“Our priority at this time is to support our members, their colleagues and their families and to do all that we can to assist the rescue operation which RMT members are currently involved in.

“The facts behind this ‎incident will need to be established in due course but at this stage we are focused on support and assistance and our thoughts are with all those impacted by this tragedy.”


Thunderstorms bring flash flooding and travel chaos

Amber warning overnight as severe weather causes damage and disruption on Scotland's east coast.

Flash flooding has created disruption in parts of Scotland as thunderstorms caused torrential downpours overnight.

An amber warning was declared for the country’s east coast on Tuesday night until 9am on Wednesday, as adverse weather wreaked havoc in towns and cities.

A major incident was declared in Fife, where a number of schools closed, and people were evacuated from their homes.

A landslide meant hundreds of people had to be rescued at Pettycur Bay Holiday Park.

Pile-up: Victoria Hospital car park in Kirkcaldy. STV
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Adverse weather caused a pile-up at one of Victoria Hospital’s car parks, scenes which were described as “upsetting” by Monica Lennon MSP.

Heavy rain was felt across Fife, East Lothian, Midlothian, Falkirk, Edinburgh and West Lothian during Tuesday night and early hours of Wednesday.

Flooding: Victoria Hospital car park in Kirkcaldy. STV

Locals said the storms in the capital were “like nothing they had ever seen”, as thunder and lightning rumbled across the city.

Meanwhile, the weather has caused severe damage on the A68 at Fala, Midlothian, which Amey maintenance crews are working to repair.

Lightning in Redding, Falkirk. Thomas Lamont, The Kilted Photographer
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Amey added: “A diversion has been established and an investigation is taking place into the full extent of the damage.”

Further north Perth experienced the adverse weather, with the local authority closing off a number of roads on Wednesday morning.

Perth and Kinross Council described several roads as “impassable”, including Feus Road, Marshall Place, Wallace Crescent, Crammond Place, Crieff Road, Glasgow Road and the A912 at Bogle Bridge.

The council said surface water has been causing problems at a number of other locations, while Perth High School has closed due to flooding.

Flooding has also caused difficult conditions in Aberdeen, with pictures showing deep surface water on the roads. A number of schools have also been closed.

Flooding: Adverse conditions in Aberdeen. Fubar News

STV meteorologist Sean Batty said: “The east of the country has experienced some horrendous conditions overnight with frequent lightning, hailstones and torrential downpours.

“It looks like Scotland has experienced over 1500 flashes of lightning through these storms with around 300-400 across the Lothians, Edinburgh, Fife, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.

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“I’ve not seen rainfall totals this high for a long time, with some of the heaviest downpours around Edinburgh, West Lothian, Falkirk, Perth, west and central Fife.

‘It looks like Scotland has experienced over 1500 flashes of lightning through these storms with around 300-400 across the Lothians, Edinburgh, Fife, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.’

Sean Batty, STV meteorologist

“From what I can see, it looks like 110mm of rain has fallen on the eastern side of Loch Leven in Scotlandwell and Kinnesswood. This is over a month’s worth of rainfall for this part of Fife.

“Heavy falls occurred in Perth city centre which has had around 80mm of rain from the storms, roughly what we’d expect in five weeks at this time of year. In one hour alone over 40mm of rain fell in the city, which is an astonishing amount of rain in that duration. That’s two thirds of a month’s rain in an hour.

“Falkirk was also badly affected by the storms with a month’s worth of rain falling here overnight.

“Edinburgh city centre had around 50mm, while further west in Ingliston there’s been 60mm. Around the capital is a good example of how rainfall can vary wildly in thunderstorms with Hermiston just two miles away from Ingliston getting 25mm.

“It’s an even bigger contrast to the east where Gullane only had 3mm and Haddington 2mm.”

The storms are expected to continue to track north and east through Wednesday morning to clear most of the mainland.

Shetland and Orkney will see these storms throughout the morning and into the early afternoon before easing.

More thunderstorms may develop later in southern areas and across the Highlands, Moray, Aberdeenshire and Perthshire.

Travel disruption was seen throughout eastern parts of the country, with ScotRail services delayed and in some instances cancelled.

In Perth trains were unable to run towards Inverness or depart south because of flooding in the station.


‘Moronavirus’ is a threat to the health of the national game

The First Minister told clubs this week they were on a yellow card and 'next time it will be red because you will leave us with absolutely no choice'.

Bolingoli: Celtic player broke quarantine rules.

Boli Bolingoli’s shorts may have been eye-catching, his £2000 suitcase remarkable and his Balenciaga hoodie designed to draw comment, but his facemask was the piece making a statement.

As the Celtic defender was pictured on a flight to Spain he was dressed like he was following the rules like the rest of us. The reality is that he was gambling with the immediate future of Scottish football.

One newspaper headline called Bolingoli “Celtic’s Covidiot”. His decision to fly abroad on his two days off, fail to quarantine or tell his employer about his trip, and then play against Kilmarnock on Sunday, was proof positive that moronavirus is a clear and present threat to the health of the national game.

The First Minister had made her unhappiness and annoyance clear when the ‘Aberdeen Eight’ were caught out in breach of the rules last week.

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The revelations about Bolingoli’s trip took things a step further. Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross may be a qualified referee but Nicola Sturgeon was every bit the official in charge when she told clubs they were on a yellow card and “next time it will be red because you will leave us with absolutely no choice”.

Within hours Celtic and Aberdeen’s next two matches were called off, with Scottish football’s Joint Response Group saying the decision was made when “a request was received” from the Scottish Government. This wasn’t a request so much as an offer they couldn’t refuse.

So was it a public health decision or a punishment? It was a bit of both.

A local lockdown in Aberdeen city meant that the Dons’ game was never certain to go ahead, especially after their players had caused the postponement of last Saturday’s match against St Johnstone.

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Celtic’s match against St Mirren being shelved is probably best filed under “something had to be done” in the wake of Bolingoli’s transgressions. The fact that Celtic and Aberdeen were then scheduled to meet on Saturday made a second postponement an obvious choice.

The action won’t end there, and the response to these incidents will signal a significant change in the footing of the SPFL and the SFA as they look to protect the game from itself and from the doomsday scenario where the government stops all football again.

Until now, the effects of the pandemic have been dealt with by the Joint Response Group, set up by the league and governing body to pool their efforts to help clubs through a health crisis and its potentially devastating financial impact. It’s been Hampden in rescue mode: benevolent, supportive and protective.

The Scottish Government’s warning will change the emphasis. The JRG’s work will continue but the job of policing the game will now become an equal priority.

Players endangering the careful planning won’t go unchecked now and the SFA and SPFL will now have to reach for the rule books to show everyone that they are doing what they can.

Bolingoli has been fined by the police and will be heavily disciplined by his club for actions Celtic boss Neil Lennon described as “rogue”, “selfish” and “stupid”. Aberdeen have been adamant that they will take action on their players.

That won’t be enough. Reports on Wednesday have the SPFL looking to ratify new rules and powers to allow it to deal with these sorts of issues and the sanctions it could impose might be limitless.

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That would be too late for the existing cases but it would be no surprise if the SFA’s compliance officer brought charges against Bolingoli and the eight from Pittodrie. In addition to the famous rule about bringing the game into disrepute, the governing body has one that compels players to “act in the best interests of Association Football”. It’s hard to imagine the Celtic player finding a lawyer willing to tackle that one.

It’s how the SPFL deal with clubs that will make for interesting reading. Missed and late tests will no longer be tolerable and major rule breaches will be considered disastrous but the league will have to decide if it has an appetite for calling clubs to account and how that might be achieved.

Celtic and Aberdeen have been appalled, angry and apologetic about the embarrassing behaviour of their players. There’s no suggestion they have been lax in their approach to the problem, nor that there’s any fault in the safety protocols at either club.

The SPFL is, of course, entitled to assign responsibility and impose sanctions as a deterrent. With so much at stake and after such high-profile breaches of trust it’s almost expected that it does. But to hold the clubs responsible even if they have taken all precautions isn’t popular among the clubs. We know this from failed moves to bring in such “strict liability” where offensive behaviour and racist or sectarian songs are sung.

There’s no guarantee the league will decide to go down that road but their next steps will be decisive in whether or not there’s a smooth return to competition or a shambles that leads to shutdown.

In normal circumstances Bolingoli would have a key role to play on Celtic’s left flank, using his abilities to help the team transition from defence to attack. Instead, his decision to disregard the rules has prompted a shift in attitude from all concerned with the Premiership and that change in tack could yet prove devastating.

Buildings catch fire after being struck by lightning

Emergency services called to fires in early hours of Wednesday, after storms raged overnight.

Thomas Lamont
A picture captured in Redding, Falkirk, by the Kilted Photographer.

A house and butcher shop went up in flames as thunder and lightning caused destruction in Falkirk.

Emergency services were called to the separate fires in the early hours of Wednesday, after storms raged overnight.

Firefighters tackled a blaze at a house in Reddingrig Place, Redding, around 4am, before a fire broke out at Thomas Johnston’s butcher shop in Brightons’ Main Street shortly before 5am.

Police confirmed there were no injuries during either incident, however, significant damage has been caused to the roof of the butchers.

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Meanwhile, cars at the Cadgers Brae Brewers Fayre in Polmont have been submerged in water because of flooding.

Flooding: The scene at Cadgers Brae Brewers Fayre in Polmont.

The area has been badly affected by the storms, with a month’s worth of rain falling overnight.

It caused a significant breach on the Union Canal, east of the A801, between Polmont and Muiravonside.

Scottish Canals confirmed it is on site, adding the breach has impacted the Edinburgh to Glasgow railway line.

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STV meteorologist Sean Batty said the east of the country experienced “some horrendous conditions overnight with frequent lightning, hailstones and torrential downpours.”

He added: “It looks like Scotland has experienced over 1500 flashes of lightning through these storms with around 300-400 across the Lothians, Edinburgh, Fife, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.

“I’ve not seen rainfall totals this high for a long time, with some of the heaviest downpours around Edinburgh, West Lothian, Falkirk, Perth, west and central Fife.”


Swinney’s exams failure was as serious as it gets on his watch

Despite calls for John Swinney to resign, a crisis, bigger than the one he helped create, may paradoxically be his saving grace.

Swinney: Yesterday’s climb-down was 'embarrassing'.

It is a simple question and it is one that John Swinney is no doubt pondering in private. For this has been no one-week crisis but a narrative played out over many months with probing questions being met with repeated ministerial assurances that the exams award system for 2020 would be fair and robust.

Yesterday’s climb-down was complete and as embarrassing as it gets for a politician in the mea culpa stakes. 

Last week his defence of what he buried yesterday was, to use a favourite word of this crisis, ‘robust’.  Even more robust was the First Minister’s defence in a BBC interview in which she seemed impatient and annoyed with the very suggestion the SQA had presided over a shambles rooted in injustice.

The apologies have been fulsome and the U-turn dizzying if only because the overall appearance is that saving face politically has been as much a factor as addressing injustice. 

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Having placed tens of thousands of young people in a state of abject fear, the impression that is given is that with a change of heart and a gorging on humble pie then we can now all move on.

Now the constant calls for Minister’s to quit can be a wearying business in the political world. Any aggrieved voter will inevitably call for a ministerial head and a public inquiry thrown in for good measure when they are the subject of perceived wrong doing.

Backbench parliamentarian’s no-one has ever heard of make the resignation call hoping they will see their name in print. Front-benchers inevitably overuse it, most frequently when a story is running on empty.

But for once the calls are understandable. In a system of parliamentary accountability it is ministers who are answerable even for the incompetence of others that they have the ability to influence if not control.

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In any system of scrutiny, where a minister signs off on a system which he or she subsequently admits is not fit for purpose, there has to be a sanction commensurate with the shambles of their creation. 

In this context, if the exams crisis of 2020 is not a resignation issue for the cabinet secretary then what is? If there is no end-game beyond criticism in parliament then we may as well admit that the principles of scrutiny and accountability are but mere pawns in a game.

Minsters can get themselves into trouble for various reasons. Sometimes they are run by their civil servants particularly if they are lazy and are never on top of a problem. If they are naive or have no foresight as to how a developing issue might play out then that issue can come back and bite them where is hurts.

None of these shortcomings apply to John Swinney, a politician of huge experience with an instinctive feel for what could go wrong. And yet by his own admission, he failed. That failure was as serious as it gets on his watch and the consequence is that his authority is gone, completely and possibly forever.

There are moments when a politician becomes so wounded that their ability to do the job is disabled because they are ultimately defined, consumed and buried by the crisis they have sponsored.

This is never an edifying sight when applied to conscientious and hard working public servant like Mr Swinney, but he is long enough in the tooth to know that by limping on he does so as a much diminished figure. If your authority goes as a minister your opponents scoff not merely in opposition but in jest. You cease to be taken seriously.

Now it looks likely that the education secretary will survive tomorrow’s vote of no confidence. The Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer says his party will vote with the Government to ensure John Swinney escapes parliamentary censure.

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Mr Greer is an impressive younger politician in a party who very quickly said to the Government, if you sort the crisis on our terms you have our support. Mr Swinney it appears duly agreed. 

The problem with the position of the Scottish Greens is that they see this as an injustice to be put right without ever embracing the concept that the sponsor of the injustice should be the subject of any meaningful sanction.  

Their intervention is rooted in a fix not in the sound principle that ministers whose failure is absolute should pay an absolute price. In that regard they have failed to discharge the most basic function of an opposition party.

I first met Mr Swinney over thirty years ago and he is a politician I have always regarded highly. In the political jungle where it is easy to locate one’s baser instincts he has always tried to play fair. Ruthlessness and cynicism are frequently virtues in this world and for the most part his reputation as a good guy is well deserved.

Forget Swinney the politician for a moment. Swinney the man will be wrestling with that most draining of contests, the struggle with his conscience. 

I cannot believe that his instincts are anything other than to resign. The brake on any decision will be that this is not an opportune time given the unprecedented times in which we live.

A crisis, bigger than the one that he helped create, may paradoxically be his saving grace.


Recession hits hard as economy takes record dive

Britain has been officially declared in recession for the first time since the financial crisis.

Recession: Scotland lagging behind England.

Britain has officially fallen into recession after the pandemic sent the economy plunging by a record 21% between April and June.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed the mammoth second quarter contraction, the worst in western Europe, and the UK’s nosedive into recession after a 2.2% fall in the first three months of 2020.

The last time Britain was in recession was during the financial crisis in 2009.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the figures “confirm that hard times are here”.

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“Hundreds of thousands of people have already lost their jobs, and sadly in the coming months many more will.

“But while there are difficult choices to be made ahead, we will get through this, and I can assure people that nobody will be left without hope or opportunity.”

A recession is defined as two successive quarters of decline in gross domestic product (GDP).

But monthly figures showed the economy bounced back by 8.7% in June, following upwardly revised growth of 2.4% in May, as lockdown restrictions eased.

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The ONS said the economy was still a long way off from recovering the record falls seen in March and April after tumbling into “the largest recession on record”.

Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician at the ONS, said: “The recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has led to the biggest fall in quarterly GDP on record.

“The economy began to bounce back in June, with shops reopening, factories beginning to ramp up production and house-building continuing to recover.

“Despite this, GDP in June still remains a sixth below its level in February, before the virus struck.

“Overall, productivity saw its largest-ever fall in the second quarter. Hospitality was worst hit, with productivity in that industry falling by three-quarters in recent months.”


Twin-verclyde: Nine sets of twins start primary school

Teachers were left seeing double as nine sets of twins prepared to start their first day of school in the council area.

SWNS
Seeing double: Nine sets of twins on their first day of school in the area.

Teachers were left seeing double as nine sets of twins prepared to start their first day of school in Inverclyde. 

The children, all aged four and five, will all start at primary schools across the council area – with one school set to welcome three sets of the twins.

Inverclyde has a history of having the highest number of twins in the classroom after a record breaking 19 pairs started school in the area in 2015.

Last year 16 sets of twins started primary school at the same time in the council area.

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This year 16 pairs were eligible to start school, but the parents of seven sets decided to defer their children’s start until next year.

Double trouble: Sixteen pairs were to start this year but parents of seven deferred. SWNS.

Provost Martin Brennan said: “I am constantly surprised at the high number of twins we have heading for primary school every year.

“It often runs into double-figures.

“This year would have followed that trend apart from a number of parents deciding to defer their children’s school start until 2021.

‘I am constantly surprised at the high number of twins we have heading for primary school every year.’

Provost Martin Brennan
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“As a former teacher, I am particularly pleased to be able to welcome them as they prepare to join their new classmates in their new schools.”

The rate of multiple births in 2015 – when all of this year’s twins were born – was 2.25% compared to the Sottish average of 1.15%.

Sixteen sets started primary school in Inverclyde in 2019. STV

The children will start primary school at St Patricks, St Francis’, Whinhill, Lady Alice and Craigmarloch.

Three sets of twins will all start Newark Primary school.

Councillor Jim Clocherty, convener of Inverclyde Council’s Education and Communities Committee, said: “The twins photo has become very much a traditional part of the first day at school for many local parents.

“Clearly, though the twins who start school on Wednesday will be facing a very different school environment than last year.

“We have done our utmost to make sure our schools are safe and welcoming for our new pupils.

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“Hand sanitiser stations have been installed throughout our schools along with one-way systems and social distancing where required.

“It will be a different first day and a different school experience but I’m certain it will still be a rewarding one which leads to a successful and enjoyable school career.”


Survey finds majority support Scottish independence

The YouGov survey revealed that 53% – excluding 'don’t knows' – would vote in favour of breaking up the Union.

Yes: A new poll has found that the majority of people support Scottish independence.

A new poll has found the majority of the country now support Scottish independence.

The YouGov survey revealed that 53% – excluding “don’t knows” – would vote in favour of breaking up the Union.

This is the fourth survey in a row to put the independence vote ahead of remain, and the highest level of support for Scottish independence ever recorded by YouGov.

The newest poll, for The Times Scotland, also marks a two-point increase in support for Scotland leaving the union, compared to YouGov’s last poll in January.

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Professor Sir John Curtice, of Strathclyde University, said that although the UK Government and the Conservatives north and south of the border have been “stirred into action” by the warning signs about the future of Britain, they will be hampered by the struggles of their main opposition in the House of Commons.

He added: “UK ministers are making frequent forays north while the party’s Scottish leader, Jackson Carlaw, has made way for a successor who, it is hoped, will be better able to reverse the nationalist tide.

“Yet this frenetic activity hides a strategic dilemma for the Conservatives – they are unlikely to be able to save the Union on their own.

“They will need the help from Labour – but Sir Keir Starmer’s party currently looks like the weak link in the unionist chain.”

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YouGov surveyed 1142 Scottish adults, aged 16 or older, and found that 52% of voters believe that Scotland is heading in the “right direction”, a 20-point increase on the last time the question was asked roughly a year ago.

By contrast, just 26% thought the country is going in the wrong way, compared to 41% last August.

Both Sir Keir and Boris Johnson have said they do not believe there should be another referendum in the near future, and Downing Street has briefed that the Prime Minister will not countenance another vote even if the SNP wins a majority in next May’s Holyrood elections.

Keith Brown, the SNP’s depute leader, said: “This poll shows that voters across Scotland continue to place their trust in the SNP to deliver for them after more than a decade in government at Holyrood.

“People in Scotland want an accessible government which listens to and engages with the public and that’s what they will always get with the SNP.

“The Scottish Government remains fully focused on tackling the coronavirus pandemic – but it’s now clearer than ever that people in Scotland have confidence in the SNP, and in Scotland’s ability to govern itself.

“It is now the established majority view in Scotland that we should be an independent country. Prolonging any attempt to stop people from having their say over their future is undemocratic, unsustainable and runs the risk of public opinion in Scotland turning even more sharply against the Prime Minister.

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“There is now unstoppable momentum behind an independence referendum – and that will be a decision for the people of Scotland, not Boris Johnson or any other Westminster politician.”


Public plea after unexplained death of man in flat

The body of Stephen Rintoul, 56, was discovered in Kilsyth on Sunday, August 2.

Google 2020
Kilsyth: Stephen Rintoul's body was found within a flat in Manse Road.

Detectives are investigating the “unexplained” death of a man following suspicions arising from a post-mortem examination.

Officers were called to a flat in Manse Road, Kilsyth, on Sunday, August 2 following reports that a man had been found dead.

The body of 56-year-old Stephen Rintoul was discovered inside the North Lanarkshire property.

As a result of the post-mortem carried out on Monday, detectives are conducting further enquiries into Mr Rintoul’s movements from Saturday, July 25.

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The last confirmed contact with Mr Rintoul was the afternoon of Saturday, August 1.

His family have been made aware.

Detective chief inspector Kevin Houliston said: “At this time, we are treating Stephen’s death as unexplained. 

“Findings from the post-mortem merit further enquiry and we need to piece together Stephen’s movements from July 25.

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“I am asking people to think back over the last few days and consider if they saw Stephen. Did you see him socialise with anyone, do you know where he was, who did he meet and who did he speak to?  

“This information will assist us in piecing everything together and establishing the circumstances of Stephen’s death. 

“Stephen’s family is understandably very upset and trying to come to terms with what has happened.  We are keeping them fully informed of any developments.”

If you have any information, call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


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