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.

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.

Competition law suspended in bid to stop petrol panic-buying

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng met with oil companies and retailers on Sunday to address the issue.

coldsnowstorm via IStock
Fuel crisis: Competition law suspended in bid tackle fuel shortage due to panic-buying.

Competition law has been suspended in an attempt to get a grip on the fuel shortages being driven by panic-buying motorists, ministers have announced.

The decision comes after Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng met with oil companies and retailers on Sunday to address another day of continued queuing for the pumps, with thousands of petrol stations running dry.

A scuffle at a north London petrol station was posted on social media as motorists waited to fill up their tanks in a bout of “frenzied buying” sparked after concerns from BP that the HGV driver shortage could impact its ability to keep up with fuel deliveries were leaked to the media.

Kwarteng opted to temporarily exempt the industry from the Competition Act to allow the industry to share information so it can target areas where fuel supply is running low.

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The triggering of what is known as the Downstream Oil Protocol comes as the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) warned that as many as two-thirds of its membership of nearly 5500 independent outlets was out of fuel, with the rest of them “partly dry and running out soon”.

Kwarteng said: “We have long-standing contingency plans in place to work with industry so that fuel supplies can be maintained and deliveries can still be made in the event of a serious disruption.

“While there has always been and continues to be plenty of fuel at refineries and terminals, we are aware that there have been some issues with supply chains.

“This is why we will enact the Downstream Oil Protocol to ensure industry can share vital information and work together more effectively to ensure disruption is minimised.”

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In a separate joint statement from the likes of Shell, ExxonMobile and Greenergy, the industry reiterated that the pressures on supply were being caused by “temporary spikes in customer demand, not a national shortage of fuel”.

PRA chairman Brian Madderson told the BBC the shortages were down to “panic buying, pure and simple”, with priority by oil companies being afforded to keeping motorway service station pumps topped up.

The intervention comes less than 24 hours after the Government announced a temporary visa scheme that will see 5000 foreign HGV drivers and 5500 poultry workers allowed into the UK on three-month contracts up to Christmas Eve in an attempt to keep supermarket shelves stocked with turkeys and tackle fuel delivery difficulties.

But retailers warned that the decision to relax immigration rules to fix supply chain issues was “too little, too late” to keep shop shelves fully stocked this Christmas.


More than 10,000 visas given to foreign workers ‘to save Christmas’

The temporary visa scheme will see opportunities created for 5000 HGV drivers and 5500 poultry workers.

Peter Cade via Getty Images
Temporary visas: The scheme aims to 'rescue Christmas' from supply shortages.

More than 10,000 foreign workers will be temporarily permitted to work as lorry drivers and in the food sector as ministers look to rescue Christmas from supply shortages.

A temporary visa scheme will see opportunities created for 5000 HGV drivers and 5500 poultry workers to take up employment in the UK until Christmas Eve, in a bid to keep supermarket shelves stocked with turkeys and toys and counter delivery difficulties at petrol stations.

UK transport secretary Grant Shapps said the changes, with the visas available from next month, would “ensure preparations remain on track” for the festive season.

Retailers had warned the Government that it had just ten days to save Christmas from “significant disruption” due to a shortfall of about 90,000 drivers in the freight sector.

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Industry groups the Food and Drink Federation and Logistics UK both welcomed the visa changes, with federation chief Ian Wright calling the measures “pragmatic”.

But British Chamber of Commerce president Baroness McGregor-Smith said the changes were the “equivalent of throwing a thimble of water on a bonfire” as it would “not be enough to address the scale of the problem”.

The announcement about immigration rules being relaxed to ease supply pressures comes amid scenes of lengthy queues at petrol stations after a shortage of specialised tanker drivers forced some fuel retailers to shut their pumps and ration sales.

As well as the short-term measure of opening up to foreign workers, the Ministry of Defence is also stepping in to provide examiners for lorry driving tests as ministers look to steadily increase the size of the workforce.

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Officials said the loan of MoD examiners to work alongside Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) employees would help put on “thousands of extra tests” over the next 12 weeks.

Meanwhile, nearly one million letters will be landing in the coming days on the doormats of people with HGV licences to encourage those who have left the industry to return.

The letter will set out the steps the haulage sector is taking to improve industry conditions, including increased wages, flexible working and fixed hours, according to the Department for Transport.

Shapps said: “This package of measures builds on the important work we have already done to ease this global crisis in the UK, and this Government continues to do everything we can to help the haulage and food industries contend with the HGV driver shortage.

“We are acting now but the industries must also play their part, with working conditions continuing to improve and the deserved salary increases continuing to be maintained in order for companies to retain new drivers.

“After a very difficult 18 months, I know how important this Christmas is for all of us and that’s why we’re taking these steps at the earliest opportunity to ensure preparations remain on track.”

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated a global shortage of lorry drivers, although there have been long-term issues in the UK with labour numbers amid an ageing workforce, low wages and poor truck stop conditions.

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The DfT said it recognised that importing foreign labour “will not be the long term solution” to the problem and that it wanted to see investment poured into establishing a robust domestic workforce.

Officials said the Government continued to support solving the high vacancy rate through improved testing and hiring, with better pay, working conditions and diversity.

Another long-term measure to turn the situation around will see the Department for Education plough up to £10m into creating new “skills bootcamps” to train up to 3000 more people to become HGV drivers.

The free, intensive courses will train drivers to undertake an entry level HGV licence (Category C) or a more advanced course to operate heavier and longer lorries (Category C&E).

Another 1000 people are expected to be trained through courses accessed locally and funded by the Government’s adult education budget.

Those accessing medical and HGV licences through the adult budget in the 2021/22 academic year will have their qualifications paid for by the state, with the funding backdated to anyone who started one of these qualifications on or after August 1.

More DVSA examiners will also be freed up to conduct lorry driver tests via a law change to allow driving examiners at the three emergency services and the MoD to be able to conduct driving tests for one another.

UK education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “HGV drivers keep this country running.

“We are taking action to tackle the shortage of drivers by removing barriers to help more people to launch new well-paid careers in the industry, supporting thousands to get the training they need to be road ready.”

UK environment secretary George Eustice said: “We have listened to concerns from the sector and we are acting to alleviate what is a very tight labour market.”

The Government said it had already streamlined the process for new HGV drivers while increasing the number of driving tests available to allow for an extra 50,000 tests to take place per year.


Further two deaths and 2556 new coronavirus cases reported

The test positivity rate in Scotland has increased slightly from 8.8% on Saturday to 8.9% on Sunday.

Gorica Poturak via IStock
Coronavirus: Two more deaths reported in past 24 hours.

A further two deaths and 2556 new cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Scotland overnight, according to official figures.

On Sunday, the Scottish Government revealed 30,652 new tests were carried out in the past 24 hours, with the test positivity rate rising slightly from 8.8% to 8.9%.

While there were just two reported deaths on Sunday, this may be due to register offices being closed on weekends.

There are 1004 people in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19, a decrease of one from Saturday, with 78 of those in intensive care, also a decrease of one.

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There have now been 4,176,832 people who have received the first dose of a coronavirus vaccination, with 3,827,110 having received their second dose.


Soldiers will help ambulance service ‘for the long run’ if required

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack spoke as military personnel started a deployment with the Scottish Ambulance Service.

PA Media
It comes as the recent surge in Covid cases in Scotland has put further pressure on the NHS

Army personnel could be driving Scotland’s ambulances for longer than the two months originally planned, with Scottish secretary Alister Jack declaring the military support is “here for the long run” if needed.

A total of 114 soldiers have been drafted in to drive non-emergency vehicles for the Scottish Ambulance Service, with a further 111 members of the armed forces helping to staff coronavirus testing centres.

It comes as the recent surge in Covid cases in Scotland has put further pressure on the NHS, with some patients experiencing long waits for ambulances – something First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been clear is unacceptable.

Health secretary Humza Yousaf, who met some of the soldiers who are stepping in on Friday, said he expected their assistance would help make a “significant improvement” to the waiting times crisis.

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Jack said that while two months of support had initially been requested, military help could remain in place “longer if that’s what the Scottish Government needs and what it takes to help protect the public”.

Alister Jack insisted the forces helping the ambulance service were ‘here for the long run’ (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, the Scottish secretary said: “The British military is always ready to deploy at the drop of a hat – but they are also here for the long run.

“Initially two months of support were requested, but let me be crystal clear about timescales.

“The UK’s Forces are not in any way restricting the amount of time available. We are happy for this operation to go on longer if that’s what the Scottish Government needs and what it takes to help protect the public.”

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Jack added: “I am pleased that we are able to work together as one to bring a quality UK asset such as the military to bear on problems.

“I say with confidence that if our NHS here in Scotland continues to struggle as winter bites, the UK military stands ready with much more help, which they can deliver in a heartbeat.”

Colonel Anthony Phillips, the commander of joint military command for Scotland, has previously said the forces deployment with the ambulance service could be extended.

Members of the armed forces from 68 Squadron from 7 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps  are now helping out, with approximately two-thirds of the troops based in the Glasgow area and a third in the Edinburgh region –  although they can be deployed elsewhere as required by the ambulance service.

Col Phillips stated on Friday: “Our commitment will be in the region of about two months.

“It is all conditions-based and if there is a requirement to look at that and extend, then that will be done in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence and the Scottish Government.”


Tom Fletcher and Strictly dance partner test positive for Covid

The McFly singer and his professional dance partner Amy Dowden have both contracted the virus.

Strictly Come Dancing via BBC
Covid-19: Tom and dance partner Amy have tested positive for the virus.

McFly star Tom Fletcher and his Strictly dance partner have tested positive for Covid-19 one day after the first live show of the series.

The BBC announced the singer and professional dancer Amy Dowden had contracted the virus on Sunday afternoon, and said they would be self-isolating.

They said in a statement: “Tom Fletcher and Amy Dowden have tested positive for Covid-19.

“The pair are now self-isolating separately following the latest Government guidelines.

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“While they will both miss Saturday’s live show, Strictly Come Dancing protocols mean that, all being well, they will return the following week.

“Strictly has and will continue to follow government guidelines in order to keep everyone safe.”

This means the pair will not be able to practice together for ten days, and Fletcher will miss McFly’s next tour performance on Sunday night.

The singer said he is “so, so sorry” to miss the gig and his band will perform without him at The SSE Hydro arena in Glasgow.

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McFly said on Twitter: “Unfortunately Tom is unwell and won’t be onstage with us tonight in Glasgow.

“He sends huge and heartfelt apologies to all the fans he won’t see tonight.

“The show will still be going ahead, we’re looking forward to seeing you all and need you guys to sing extra loud for us tonight.”

This follows reports that three of the shows dancers were unvaccinated, though there is no suggestion that either Fletcher or Dowden were among this number.

Dowden said she was vaccinated on February 4 in an Instagram post.

Fletcher and Dowden tackled a cha-cha to September by Earth, Wind and Fire in Strictly Come Dancing’s first live show of the 2021 series the night before testing positive.

The show has seen its television audience grow to almost eight million viewers, according to overnight ratings for Saturday.


Thousands hit the streets for first Kiltwalk in two years

The annual fundraising event went virtual in 2020 and early 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Big Partnership via Kiltwalk

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Glasgow clad in tartan to take part in the first Kiltwalk in two years.

Around 4000 participants took part in the event on Sunday, marching for nearly 500 charities of their choice. 

The annual event went virtual in 2020 and early 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this year, 11,500 kiltwalkers raised £4.1m for charity, with an additional £2.05m donated by the Hunter Foundation for 1055 charities. 

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Sir Tom Hunter has pledged to top up donations from Sunday’s Kiltwalk by 50%.

Participants took on a choice of two distances – the 16.5 mile Mighty Stride starting at Glasgow Green and ending at Dumbarton’s Meadow Park or the 3.5 mile Wee Wander from Glasgow Green to the Riverside Museum. 

This year’s events were tailored to accommodate social distancing, with walkers setting off from 7am in a series of staggered starts. 

Sir Tom said: “We’re so happy to be here this morning in Glasgow Green to see folk with smiling faces. We’re back!

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“When the pandemic hit, Kiltwalk faced uncertainty, like everyone else on the planet, but I listened to the Kiltwalk team saying we need to do something. The ability for charities to raise money went down but the need for charities went through the roof – it was the perfect storm.

“The money that is raised here will help people all over Scotland with a wee hand-up, not a hand-out.  

“Over 1300 Scottish charities this year will be helped by the Kiltwalk. It makes my heart sing.”

Three Hyundai cars donated by Arnold Clark will be won by three Kiltwalkers on Sunday.


Daniel Craig ‘loved filming in Scotland’ for final Bond movie

The actor will star as 007 in his final Bond movie No Time To Die, which is released on September 30.

STV News

Daniel Craig has said he loved filming in Scotland for his final James Bond film, adding the country is “a beautiful place to be”.

The 53-year-old will star as 007 in his fifth and final Bond movie No Time To Die, which will be released at the end of this month following delays due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Scotland will have a starring role in the movie, with scenes also filmed in the country for Craig’s third Bond film Skyfall. 

“We did a nice chunk in Skyfall and we’re back again and we just had an amazing place where we filmed,” Craig told STV entertainment reporter Laura Boyd. 

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“I love Scotland and going back and filming up there.

“We were in the studio for months and then we went [to Glen Coe] and the space – it was such a relaxing time and the same on this [film], although we went driving across fields at 90mph and crashing cars and things.

“It was a beautiful place to be.”


Man treated in hospital after ‘targeted attack’ in city

A man was taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary Hospital following the incident on Saturday.

jgshields via IStock
There will be an increased police presence in the area as an investigation is carried out.

A police investigation has been launched after a ‘targeted attack’ which left a man in hospital.

Officers attended Garlieston Road in the Barlanark area of Glasgow on Saturday at around 9.25pm following reports of a injured man.

The 33-year-old was then taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary Hospital for treatment.

Police Scotland have indicated that they will have an increased presence in the area throughout their investigation.

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A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 9.25pm on Saturday, 25 September, police attended a report of man injured in Garlieston Road, Glasgow.

“The 33-year-old was taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary Hospital for treatment.

“Enquiries are ongoing and officers are following a positive line of enquiry.

“This was a targeted attack and there will be an increased police presence in the area throughout the investigation.”


Disruption to train services on Sunday as dispute over pay continues

Political leaders have been urged to take responsibility for the dispute.

fotomem via IStock
Few services have been running on Sundays for over seven months.

A majority of ScotRail services across the country will be cancelled on Sunday amidst the ongoing industrial dispute.

Few services have been running on Sundays for over seven months, with unions taking action against the rail operator Abellio over pay.

It comes after ticket examiners joined with conductors to vote overwhelmingly in favour of continuing strike action.

Last week, a protest was held outside the residence of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Bute House in Edinburgh, over planned service cuts.

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Subject to consultation, ScotRail has said it plans to introduce a new timetable from May next year, with around 2100 services per weekday.

However, it is a fall on the 2400 operated each day by ScotRail before the coronavirus pandemic.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch insisted that the “political elite” in Scotland should take responsibility for the dispute.

“It is nothing short of a scandal that Transport Scotland and the SNP are happy to collude with Scotrail Abellio to try and burn off their staff by using the sledgehammer of the Tory anti-union laws,” he said.

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“That tactic has failed again this week with our members voting by nine to one to step up the fight. Their determination and resilience is outstanding.”

He continued: “It’s about time the political elite in Scotland took responsibility for Britain’s longest running industrial dispute which is over the basic issue of pay equality on Scotrail. 

“Instead of sticking their heads in the sand they should be forcing Abellio back to the table with a clear instruction to negotiate a fair settlement.  

“RMT has been available to talks to settle this matter since the off and it’s now time for those pulling the strings to take up that offer and bring an end to a dispute which shames Scotland.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said that constructive talks are on-going with trade unions.

They said: “We recognise how hard rail employees worked during the pandemic to keep services moving for key workers.

“Through additional funding via the Emergency Measures Agreements we ensured that every employee received full pay throughout the pandemic – even at times when services and revenue had fallen by up to 95%.

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“Constructive talks are on-going with many of the trade unions against a backdrop of significant financial challenges faced by the Government – notwithstanding the unprecedented level of funding already provided for transport operators during the pandemic.

“We would urge all unions to continue talks in this constructive manner.”

A ScotRail spokesperson said: “It’s disappointing that the RMT’s ticket examiner members have voted to continue with their long-running strike.

“We’re seeing customers gradually return to Scotland’s Railway, but our financial position is precarious, and any strike action is damaging and wrong at a time when we need to deliver a safe and reliable service.

“To build a more sustainable and greener railway for the future and reduce the burden on the taxpayer, we need to change.

“All of us in the railway – management, staff, trade unions, suppliers, and government – need to work together to modernise the railway so that it is fit for the future.”


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