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.

Former prison officer jailed for murder of Emma Faulds

Ross Willox, 42, killed his friend and then tried to cover up the crime by burying her body in a shallow grave in a remote forest.

Police Scotland
Emma Faulds was last seen in April 2019.

A former prison officer who murdered his friend and hid her body in a remote forest has been jailed for life and will serve a minimum of 20 years behind bars.

Ross Willox killed Emma Faulds after arranging to party with her at his home in Monkton, Ayrshire, on Sunday, April 28, 2019.

Ms Faulds was reported missing by her family on April 30, 2019, two days after she was last seen.

Her body was found about six weeks later in Glentrool Forest, in the Galloway Forest, Dumfries and Galloway, after a major search involving specialist officers and search dogs.

Police forensic officers carried out searches in the Galloway Forest (Andrew Milligan/PA
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Ross Willox, 42, had denied the charges but was found guilty of murder and attempting to defeat the ends of justice following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow in May.

He was sentenced to life with a recommendation that he serve a minimum of 20 years when he returned to the court for sentencing on Tuesday.

Judge Lord Mulholland told him: “You have been convicted of murdering a young woman, Emma Faulds.

“Only you will know what happened in your house that night that led to you killing your friend.

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“Having murdered her you created an elaborate scheme to cover up your crime.”

He said that Willox placed the body of Ms Faulds in a shallow grave and covered it up and tried to ensure it would decompose more quickly by placing it in a wet area.

The judge said: “You hoped it would never be found and her devoted family would have to spend the rest of their lives wondering where she was and if she was alive or dead.”

After Ms Faulds was reported missing, Willox told police he had been partying with her at his flat but said they then went in her car to her flat in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, where he claimed he left her fit and well.

However, police became suspicious about his movements when they found CCTV footage that showed a man driving her car back to her street.

They then found CCTV footage of Willox driving his Mercedes jeep through Girvan on April 29 towards the Galloway forest area, a region where he had previously worked building wind farms.

He was also captured on CCTV in Ayr before his trip to the forest going to various shops buying bottles of bleach, rubber gloves, shower curtains, tins of outdoor disinfectant and waterproof trousers.

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Police said that, put together circumstantially, this painted a suspicious picture of Ross Willox in relation to the disappearance of Ms Faulds.

The Galloway Forest covers an area of about 700 square miles, however, by using specialist techniques, police were able to focus on a search area.

Using cell site analysis from Willox’s phones, overlaid with CCTV analysis and time and distance runs with cars, officers were able to narrow down the search area to 10-15 square miles and the missing woman’s body was recovered on June 12, 2019.

Willox, who became friends with Ms Faulds when they both worked at HMP Kilmarnock, was arrested on May 8, 2019 and later charged with her murder.

Detective Inspector Peter Crombie, deputy senior investigating officer on the investigation, described Willox as a “selfish, arrogant monster” and said no motive for the crime has been identified.


Sturgeon to set out life in lowest tier of Covid restrictions

The First Minister is due to make an announcement at Holyrood on Tuesday afternoon.

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First Minister: Nicola Sturgeon is due to make an announcement at Holyrood on Tuesday.

Nicola Sturgeon is due to set out what life in Scotland will look like under the lowest level of coronavirus restrictions.

The First Minister is to make an announcement at Holyrood on Tuesday as part of the latest review of the route map out of lockdown.

She said last week it was “unlikely” that any area would see restrictions eased on June 28 – the date it had been hoped all of Scotland would move into level zero restrictions.

Sturgeon previously said this move would likely be delayed by three weeks.

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The Scottish Government will also publish a review on Tuesday of physical distancing requirements, along with a paper which Sturgeon said would set out “what we hope life will look like beyond level zero – as we get to the point where we can lift all, or virtually all, of the remaining restrictions”.

This level, the lowest in Scotland’s five-tier system, is only currently in place in the island authorities of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, with all mainland areas having either level one or level two restrictions applied.

Sturgeon previously told MSPs: “Given the current situation – and the need to get more people fully vaccinated before we ease up further – it is reasonable to indicate now that I think it unlikely that any part of the country will move down a level from June 28.

“Instead, it is likely that we will opt to maintain restrictions for a further three weeks from June 28 and use that time to vaccinate – with both doses – as many more people as possible.

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“Doing that will give us the best chance, later in July, of getting back on track and restoring the much greater normality that we all crave.”


Scotland prepare for ‘all or nothing’ clash with Croatia

Steve Clarke and his players can make history by reaching the knockout stages of Euro 2020.

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Scotland are looking to progress after drawing with England at Wembley.

Scotland take on Croatia at Hampden on Tuesday knowing that a victory will put the team in the knockout stages of a major tournament for the first time in their history.

Victory against the World Cup finalists would ensure at least a third place finish in Group D and a guarantee of progressing as one of the four best third-placed sides in the competition.

Depending on the result of the game between England and Czech Republic, Scotland could even finish second if they win and score at least two goals.

Though the men’s team has been at eight World Cup finals and is now competing in their third European Championship, the side has never advanced from the group stages.

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A second place finish would mean Scotland would face the runners up from Group E in Copenhagen in the round of 16, while finishing third would mean a match against Belgium in Seville, Netherlands in Budapest or the winners of Group E at Hampden, with the opposition only confirmed when all group games have been completed.

Steve Clarke says the team will need the Tartan Army’s full backing. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Scotland head coach Steve Clarke believes his side are underdogs for the clash at the national stadium, up against a team that was runner-up at World Cup 2018. Around 12,000 fans will be at Hampden for the game and Clarke has called on the Tartan Army to make their backing known throughout to help spur the team on to success.

“If they can make half the noise that the 3,000 supporters did at Wembley then it will be a great atmosphere,” he said.

“What I would say to the Tartan Army is we need your backing from the first minute to the 95th minute. We need you all the way.

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“Sometimes in a game things go against you, that’s when you need the crowd more than anything. So hopefully they will get behind us from the first to the last minute.

“And hopefully everybody leaves the stadium with a big smile on their face.”

The squad was dealt a blow the day before the definitive match when it was revealed that Billy Gilmour had tested positive for Covid-19 just days after a man of the match performance against England on his first international start. While the Chelsea youngster self-isolates, the rest of the squad have all returned negative tests and have travelled to Glasgow from their training base in Darlington.

Clarke admitted that Gilmour had been in his planned starting line-up but said that his absence opened up an opportunity for someone to step in and become a “hero”.

The manager also addressed the side’s goal drought so far in the competition. Scotland are the only team not to score at Euro 2020 but have had multiple chances against Czech Republic and England.

Clarke said: “If we keep creating the chances we have created, if we keep having the shots at goal we have had in previous matches, then you would like to think that Lady Luck will be on our side and maybe one of them will hit the back of the net, or at least one will hit the back of the net.

“If we reach the performance levels of the other night then I think we will be very competitive in the game and then that you need that little stroke of luck that every team needs in a big game. Hopefully it’s our turn to be the lucky team.”


The team that stands between Scotland and history

A closer look at what Steve Clarke's men can expect from Croatia at Hampden on Tuesday.

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Croatia line-up before taking on the Czech Republic at Hampden on Monday.

Scotland’s hopes of making it out of their Euro 2020 group will come down to Tuesday night’s clash with Croatia.

Steve Clarke’s team have taken just one point from their two games so far and a win is required to reach the knockout stage.

Here, we puts the focus on the team standing in their way ahead of the Group D showdown at Hampden.

Form

Croatia returned home from the 2018 World Cup to a hero’s welcome after battling through to the final, where they lost 4-2 to France, but it has not always been smooth sailing since that Russian adventure.

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They finished bottom of their three-team group in the inaugural Nations League, which started with a shocking 6-0 shellacking at the hands of Spain and ended with a 2-1 loss to England.

Croatia avoided relegation and finished third in the four-team pool, having topped their Euro 2020 qualifying group by three points over second-placed Wales.

Rob Casey via SNS Group
Croatia were disappointed by their 1-1 draw with Czech Republic on Monday.

World Cup qualification kicked off this year with a disappointing 1-0 loss at Slovenia while in their first two games at this summer’s finals there has been signs the squad is starting to show its age after lacklustre displays in their 1-0 defeat to England and 1-1 draw with the Czech Republic.

Coach

Croatia’s World Cup hopes were looking in jeopardy when they turned to Zlatko Dalic in 2017. The former midfielder had spent a successful period in the Middle East before coming in as successor to Ante Cacic .

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He quickly surpassed expectations, steering them to second spot in their qualification group and then a play-off victory against Greece.

Dalic’s men beat Argentina, Nigeria and Iceland in what had been a tough-looking World Cup group in Russia, before knocking Denmark and the hosts out on penalties.

Victory over England in the semi-final propelled Croatia into the final and a new level of fame and goodwill for the 54-year-old.

Rob Casey via SNS Group
Zlatko Dalic led Croatia to the World Cup semi-finals.

Tactics

Dalic’s favoured system is an organised, aggressive 4-2-3-1, with attack-minded full-backs – including Rangers ace Borna Barisic, when fit – providing extra threat.

Experienced Domagoj Vida is an important component at the heart of a defence that can also call upon former Liverpool player Dejan Lovren and some younger talented options.

Luka Modric plays ahead of the backline alongside Marcelo Brozovic, with a number 10 flanked by wide men as the physical presence of Bruno Petkovic leads the line.

Key men

The main man, without question, is Real Madrid’s Modric – still the heartbeat of the Croatian side at the age of 35. Modric has been named Croatia’s player of the year nine times and won the Golden Ball at the 2018 World Cup, as well as that year’s world player of the year award.

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Luka Modric was named the world’s best footballer in 2018.
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Barisic has established himself as an important figure with his rampaging runs from left-back – but the Ibrox defender has sat out both games so far with a back strain.

Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic partners Modric in midfield while AC Milan’s Ante Rebic and Ivan Perisic – the Inter Milan star who netted their equaliser against the Czechs on Friday – provide a threat in attack.

Dinamo Zagreb’s Mislav Orsic, whose stunning hat-trick knocked Tottenham out of the Europa League, is a strong option off the bench.


Piper serenades whisky casks in bid to ‘boost flavour’

Ali Levack from Project Smok joined forces with whisky brand Wee Smoky to release a single in harmony with a new bottle.

Jeff Holmes via PA Media
Serenade: Ali Levack has been playing music to whisky in bid to enhance drink's flavour.

A piper has been serenading casks of whisky in a musical bid to enhance the flavour of the drink.

Ali Levack, frontman of Scottish “neo-trad” band Project Smok, has joined forces with whisky brand Wee Smoky to release a single in harmony with a new bottle.

The partnership began when Project Smok auctioned naming rights to their new single in a creative way to tackle loss of income due to cancellation of live gigs during the pandemic.

Wee Smoky won the auction, and will celebrate the release of the song “Wee Smoky” with its own release of 550 special edition bottles, with £1 from each bottle going to the band.

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Levack, who was BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of 2020, played the whistle to the casks to enhance the flavour, a process known as “sonic-aging.”

The musician, from Dingwall, said: “Playing to whisky casks was a new experience. I loved being part of the whole process, from playing our music to the whisky while it aged to drinking it while listening to our recorded song.

“The song and the whisky go very well together. When everything froze in March last year, we didn’t think we’d be in the same position more than 12 months later.

“We’ve had to think outside the box as to how we can generate income until we can start playing live music again.

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“Auctioning off naming rights to a song was an idea we didn’t think would work, but it has ended up with us having our own whisky named after us, which is a dream come true.”

A QR code on the bottles will take drinkers directly to “Wee Smoky” on Spotify.

Wee Smoky’s founder, Edinburgh-based Rory Gammell, said: “Music is part of everything we do. Our whisky is best enjoyed with music so it was natural to experiment to see how music could enhance the flavour.

“My dream was for Project Smok to headline our launch party. Unfortunately, those plans were put on hold. Nobody embodies the spirit of our brand quite like them.

“They’re non-conformist and I couldn’t think of a better example of Scottish flair – they’re a remarkable band with a unique sound.

“They’re making people think differently about trad music, and we’re making people think differently about whisky. It’s the perfect match.”

The concept of “sonic-aging” stems from the 18th and 19th centuries, when vibrations in oak casks in transit across the seas were considered essential to the ageing process of liquors including whisky.

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It is thought that by playing music to casks, such vibrations can be recreated, enhancing the flavour of batches by accelerating the way liquor reacts with the wood.


Around 8000 second vaccine appointments issued too early

The scheduling issue has seen slots given ahead of the eight-week interval recommended by the JCVI.

Pornpak Khunatorn via IStock
Jab: System fault blamed for appointments issued too early.

Around 8000 appointments for second doses of a coronavirus vaccine in Scotland have been issued too early due to a system fault, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

The scheduling issue has seen slots given ahead of the eight-week interval recommended by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

An investigation has been launched, although the fault is now said to have been fixed.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf told the PA news agency: “We have been made aware of a system error which has led to a number of people being called forward for their second vaccination ahead of the eight-week recommended interval.

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“We apologise to those affected and NHS boards are in the process of making contact with them to offer them a new appointment time or the option of attending a drop-in clinic when their second dose is due.

“If you have received an invitation for a second dose that is less than eight weeks after your first, please don’t come to your appointment.

“You can either rearrange by calling the helpline or visiting NHS Inform.

“If you are immunosuppressed and have an earlier second dose appointment for clinical reasons, please go along as planned.

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“It’s important to stress that there is no clinical risk associated with receiving the vaccine earlier than eight weeks.

“This is the recommended interval because it increases the efficacy of the vaccine and the level of protection.

“We are liaising with boards to ensure that there are staff on hand at vaccination clinics to offer further advice and reassurance.”

The announcement comes the day Nicola Sturgeon received her second dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

Anyone who believes their appointment for second doses is too early can rearrange online or by calling the Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013.


Plan to award Josh Taylor the Freedom of East Lothian

The proposal is going before councillors this week in light of the boxing champ's historic win last month.

Craig Foy via SNS Group
Champ: Boxer Josh Taylor could be handed the Freedom of East Lothian.

World champion boxer Josh Taylor could be handed the Freedom of East Lothian under plans going before councillors this week.

Taylor, who grew up in Prestonpans, became the first British fighter to become an undisputed world champion in the four-belt era after defeating José Ramírez last month and returned to a hero’s welcome in the town.

The 30-year-old boxer would join a select group of people to be made freemen of East Lothian by the council, including Port Seton artist John Bellany, golfer Catriona Matthew, The Royal Scots Borderers, and the Lothians and Border Yeomanry.

A report to a virtual meeting of East Lothian Council on Tuesday reveals provost John McMillan has nominated Taylor for the honour and was seconded by the leader of the council, councillor Willie Innes.

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It asks councillors to approve the nomination and “present the award of the Freedom of East Lothian to honour the sporting achievements of Josh Taylor, undisputed light-welterweight champion of the world”.

And it calls on them to instruct officials to arrange a presentation ceremony as soon as it is practical to do so.

Listing the achievements of Taylor, the report adds: “He has held the World Boxing Association, International Boxing Federation and Ring magazine titles since 2019 and the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organisation titles since May 2021.”

The report also references the boxer’s successful amateur career, which saw him win a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 while still a teenager, and a gold medal at the Games in Glasgow four years later.

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It adds: “Josh Taylor is now only the second Scotsman to be an undisputed champion after Ken Buchanan and is the first British fighter to become an undisputed world champion in the ‘four-belt era’ and only the fifth man in the world to achieve this status.”

A parade to mark Taylor’s win is being held this weekend in Prestonpans after it was given the go-ahead, with Covid safety precautions in place.

By local democracy reporter Marie Sharp


Suits worn on screen by Sir Sean Connery to be auctioned off

One of the suits is thought to have been worn by the James Bond star in The Untouchables.

United Artists via Getty Images
Sean Connery: Suits worn by late star to be auctioned off.

Two suits worn by the late Sir Sean Connery in films will go under the hammer in an online auction this week.

The suits are thought to have been worn in films the James Bond star appeared in during the 1980s such as The Untouchables and either Five Days One Summer or Never Say Never Again.

A grey suit, made by Angels, Costumiers for the Entertainment Industry, will be auctioned by Lyon and Turnbull on Wednesday with an estimate of £600 – £800.

The other suit, cream in colour and made by Hayward, London, has an estimate of £700 – £900.

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Lyon and Turnbull’s Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps and Photographs sale also features a document with Mahatma Gandi’s fingerprints and a postcard, inscribed “last post from St Kilda”, sent just before the islands were evacuated in August 1930.

Lyon & Turnbull via Email
Sean Connery’s suits to go under the hammer

Cathy Marsden, rare manuscripts and books specialist at Edinburgh headquartered Lyon and Turnbull, said: “Our job involves a lot of research and we had great fun with the unusual task of trying to identify in which films in which Sir Sean Connery wore the suits.

“We have managed to narrow down the cream suit to either Five Days One Summer or Never Say Never Again and we think the grey suit might have featured in The Untouchables.

“I am really looking forward to this sale, which has a range of items across popular and high culture with some fascinating and historic stories behind them.”

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The cream suit has “Sean Connery 21.7.82 16140″ printed on a Hayward label on the inside trouser pocket, while the grey suit has “Sean Connery Sept. 8” handwritten on an Angels label to a trouser pocket.

The document with Mahatma Gandi’s fingerprints, thought to be perhaps the only existing example of them, has an estimate of £5000 – £10,000.

The sheet of paper attached to cardboard serves as a record of the political leader’s activism and role in the peace movement in the early twentieth century.

The postcard from St Kilda is part of a wider archive relating to the remote archipelago, 40 miles west of the Outer Hebrides.

Other lots include a rare first edition copy, second impression hardback of the first in the series of the seven Harry Potter novels, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and a copy of Seven Pillars of Wisdom by TE Lawrence, known as Lawrence of Arabia.


Call for more information into toxic spill that killed fish

At least 500 trout and salmon died following the accidental release of Zetag into the River Eden in Fife.

Sepa via LDRS
Sepa: At least 500 trout and salmon died following the accidental release of Zetag into the River Eden in Fife.

Fifers are set to find out more about how exactly a toxic spill occurred on the River Eden following action from a Cupar councillor in the wake of another chemical incident on a linked waterway.

Lib Dem Margaret Kennedy has requested that Fife Council environmental health officers and national body Sepa work together to produce a report on Scottish Water’s accidental release of 400 litres of Zetag into the Eden in October 2018, at the peak of the salmon spawning season.

At least 500 trout and salmon died as a result of the spill stemming from the Scottish Water-run Cupar Waste Water Treatment Works, harming fish stocks for years to come.

Sepa investigated the spill after it was reported, and ultimately secured a conviction for pollution against Scottish Water in May this year.

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The government-run utilities body was fined £6700.

While some details of the spill were read out in court, Sepa’s conclusions have not been made available to the wider public.

It does not routinely publish details of its investigations, but councillor Kennedy believes that Fifers are entitled to know how the failure in chemical control came about and what is being done to prevent it from happening again.

“All I have seen [on the Eden spill] is what was printed in the press,” cllr Kennedy said.

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“I’m concerned about the wider impact on the environment that it has, and I have concerns about how regulatory bodies can proactively manage our ecosystems and waterways.

“We need to know more about how, when something goes wrong, it’s managed locally.”

Her motion, tabled on her behalf at the North East Fife area committee by Tim Brett, was accepted unanimously.

Cllr Kennedy added: “By getting this report we can come through with other questions about the investigation process as it simply hasn’t gone the way the public would hope.

“What’s not right is that people don’t understand what happens in these circumstances and they don’t feel as if they’re being listened to.”

The Eden spill occurred when a forklift driver at the Cupar treatment works accidentally punctured a 1000 litre container of the chemical Zetag.

Zetag is a flocculant – a type of cleaning substance used to gather up solid particles in water. Upon contact with liquid it takes on a jelly-like quality that attracts foreign bodies, making them easy to remove from water sources.

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Warnings produced by manufacturer Solenis note: “As with all cationic polyelectrolytes the product exhibits toxicity towards fish. It is important that precautions are taken where the product may come into direct contact with fresh-water courses, streams and rivers.”

Scottish Water plant workers, unaware of the catastrophic effect the material has on aquatic life, hosed the spilled chemicals into nearby surface drains that led directly to the Eden. The alarm was only raised when members of the public spotted fish floating down the river.

The Eden Angling Association (EAA), a non-profit body that maintains and controls fishing and restocking along the River Eden, is counting the costs of the spill more than most.

With few fish to catch and no restocking order served on Scottish Water to replenish the hundreds of fish and thousands of fry killed, its membership numbers dwindled immediately after the leak, forcing it to delve into cash reserves to stay afloat.

Almost three years on, salmon numbers are rising again on the Eden – but David Farmer, secretary and treasurer of the EAA, wants to know why Sepa wasn’t providing any insight into the investigation as it progressed.

His anxieties over water quality have recently been exacerbated by a fresh chemical spill that occurred last month on the Ceres Burn, which feeds into the Eden.

A Sepa investigation into that incident is ongoing, but it is understood that it is not in any way connected to the Eden accident.

“I provided a witness statement to Sepa at the time,” Mr Farmer said of the 2018 affair.

“To their credit, they have prosecuted that particular incident – but we weren’t called to the court case.

“The sheriff produced some miniscule fine which is not the right kind of message to send, particularly to someone who has caused so much damage.

“It’s only a small number of salmon that come up the river – and losing them has a long-term effect.”

Club records show that 32 salmon were caught in 2017. In 2018, this dropped to just nine, but recovered last year to 24.

It has worked to restock and protect the river on its own, without assistance or insight from Sepa or Scottish Water – but this situation, Mr Farmer says, is unsustainable and sows doubt in Sepa’s ability to protect Scotland’s waterways.

He hopes to set up a steering group in the near future made up of members of the EAA, Sepa, Scottish Water and other local figures to act in the Eden’s best interests.

“We’re not getting support from Sepa – the whole system for looking after the environment is broken,” Mr Farmer added.

“A £6700 fine is a joke – particularly because it goes right back to the Scottish Government and we see none of it despite the fact it would help us restock the river.

“We need more transparency on what’s being done to protect the rivers. People might understand [the action taken] if Sepa was more transparent but it’s not.

“Their reliance on the community for reporting is all reactive. There’s no effort to be proactive with the community at all.

“We don’t know if they’re doing anything like that at all. The experience to date is not good.”

A Sepa spokesperson said: “Following reports from members of the public in October 2018, Sepa discovered a chemical leak from the Cupar Waste Water Treatment Works had caused localised pollution and the death of hundreds of fish in the River Eden.

“Following the discharge, a clean-up of the river was completed, and remedial actions were taken.

“Sepa submitted a report to the Procurator Fiscal and Scottish Water was fined £6700 on Monday, May 10, 2021.

“While Sepa has not received a request for further information from councillor Kennedy, we would be happy to provide more information on the event.”

By local democracy reporter Jon Brady


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