Live: Coronavirus news updates from across Scotland

The country is on lockdown in an effort to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

Coronavirus: The fight goes on to stop the spread of the deadly virus. Pixabay
Coronavirus: The fight goes on to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

7.33pm – Health board suspends visiting to all but some ‘essential visitors’

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is to suspend visiting at all hospitals to protect patients and staff from coronavirus, effective immediately.

The health board has issued some exempt “essential visitors” but said only one person can attend at any given time and no children are permitted to visit.

Angela O’Neill, deputy nurse director, said: “We understand this will be difficult – visitors are normally warmly welcomed into our hospitals but our main priority now is to keep everyone safe.

“We want to thank everyone for their understanding and co-operation.

“Essential visitors, like birthing partners, parents of children and those visiting a family member receiving end of life care, will continue to be allowed, however only one visitor at any given time.

“If you are in the essential group of visitors, please speak to the nurse in charge to arrange.”

6.03pm – Senior Scots diplomat in Hungary dies of coronavirus

A Scots diplomat has died at the age of 37 after contracting coronavirus.

Steven Dick, the deputy head of mission at the British Embassy Hungary, died on Tuesday.

A statement from his parents, Steven and Carol Dick, said: “Steven was a much-loved son, grandson and nephew. He was kind, funny and generous.

“It was always his dream to work for the Foreign Office and he was very happy representing our country overseas.

“We are devastated by his loss & ask for privacy at this tragic time.”

5.25pm – Coronavirus ‘antibody test’ to be ready ‘within days’

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

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

5.08pm – Giving blood is an essential activity

Giving blood is an essential activity, with people urged to continue to donate to make sure hospitals are well stocked.

Sessions are going ahead during the coronavirus pandemic and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service will advise if this changes.

4.25pm – Teacher lends a hand in protective gear production

A teacher in the Highlands has been using his 3D printer to create face visors for medical staff who need protective gear in the fight against coronavirus.

Stephen Stewart, of Lochaber High School, received a call from Belford Hospital and after testing a few prototypes, he will also be producing visors for the NHS.

4.05pm – Orthotic technicians to produce face visors

A technique has been developed by hospital technicians in Glasgow, helping them to produce more than 100 face visors an hour.

Staff at the orthotic department at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow have turned to making the visors to boost supplies and plan to pass their design to hospitals across the country.

They are now appealing for material to make the protective equipment.

Anyone who can help with supplying 0.2-0.5mm acetate sheets is asked to contact orthotic lead Melville Dixon at [email protected]

3.47pm – Football chairman offers free hotel rooms to NHS workers

Peterhead chairman Rodger Morrison is offering free accommodation at his county inn to NHS staff travelling to and from Aberdeen’s main hospital.

The Cock and Bull in Balmedie has five bed and breakfast rooms which have been opened up to those travelling to work at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary during the coronavirus pandemic.

3.33pm – Bus operators to receive funding regardless of numbers

The Scottish Government has pledged to pay bus companies the amount of funding projected in this year’s budget regardless of the number of passengers who use services.

The cash pledge, announced by the First Minister at a briefing on coronavirus in Edinburgh, is intended to help support companies during the outbreak.

Under the current agreement, Transport Scotland reimburses bus firms for travel under the concessionary scheme for over-60s and disabled people.

Nicola Sturgeon announced this year’s funding will not be based on the actual amount of travel but projections made at the beginning of the year.

2.57pm – Young Brit dies after Covid-19 diagnosis

A 21-year-old woman has died after contracting coronavirus in the United Kingdom.

Chloe Middleton, from Buckinghamshire, is believed to have had no pre-existing health conditions.

Her mum Diane said on Facebook: “To all the people out there that thinks it’s just a virus please think again speaking from a personal experience this so called virus has taken the life of my 21 year old daughter”.

2.35pm – Confirmed cases in Scotland exceeds 700

There are now 719 confirmed cases of the virus in Scotland – a rise of 135 in the last 24 hours.

It’s the biggest daily rise in cases in the country since the outbreak began, an increase of around a quarter (23%) on the 584 patients reported on Tuesday.

12.45pm: Patient deaths in Scotland rise by six to 22

The Scottish Government is setting up its own expert advisory group to help in the Covid-19 battle, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

Scotland’s First Minister announced the move as she revealed the number of coronavirus deaths in the country has risen to 22.

That is up by six from Tuesday’s total of 16, the First Minister said, adding a further 51 people are in intensive care suffering from Covid-19 or with symptoms of the virus.

12pm: Coronavirus funding in Scotland tops £2bn

Scottish secretary Alister Jack told MPs additional coronavirus funding for Scotland now totals £2.7bn.

11.53am: Record numbers flock to NHS 24

NHS 24 this week recorded one of the busiest days since the service was set up in 2002.

There were almost 19,000 calls to the 111 service and the coronavirus helpline on Monday, on a day when the 111 service would normally see around 3200 calls. This included almost 12,000 calls to 111 and a further 7000 to the dedicated helpline.

The NHS inform website, which is hosting the national information service for Covid-19 information, registered more than 182,200 visits with more than 44,000 people accessing the coronavirus self help guide on the site. 

On Tuesday, there were more than 8500 calls to 111, with almost 4000 calls to the helpline. NHS inform saw just over 202,000 visits with the self help guide accessed more than 55,000 times.

In response to the very high demand for its services, staff from across the national health board have been volunteering to be retrained so they can support the helplines. 

In addition to staff being asked to step into other roles, temporary staff have also been recruited and are currently in training, to help bolster the workforce and help NHS 24 support as many people as possible.

NHS 24 medical director Dr Laura Ryan said: “NHS 24 people have been, quite simply, amazing.” 

11.18am: Barclays to waive overdraft interest until end of April

Barclays UK will waive interest on overdrafts for a fixed period, as part of moves to help personal banking customers through tough financial times amid the spread of coronavirus.

The bank said overdraft interest will be waived from Friday to the end of April, meaning no charges for customers to use their agreed overdraft.

It said customers do not need to call it to set this up – as interest will automatically be removed from March 27.

The move is part of a wider package of support that the bank is offering to help customers who are suffering financial hardship because of coronavirus.

Gillean Dooney, managing director at Barclays, said: “It’s crucial we offer the right support to our customers through this challenging time.

“We have therefore decided to waive all overdraft interest until the end of April, meaning there will be no charges for customers to use their arranged overdraft. We are reviewing all options to help customers after this time to ensure we support those in financial difficulty.”

Morrisons: Customers at the store in Giffnock.

11.08am: Shoppers keep their distance

Shoppers at a Morrisons store in Giffnock, East Renfrewshire, kept their distance from each other while lining up outside the supermarket.

A customer told STV News: “It worked really well.

“Staff monitored who was going in, everyone in the queue was kept apart, and there was plenty of food too.”

11am: New £5m fund to help Scottish fishing and seafood industry

The fishing and seafood industry will receive £5m from the Scottish Government to help businesses during the coronavirus outbreak.

Demand for Scottish delicacies such as langoustine, prawns and crab has fallen sharply as the export and hospitality markets contract.

The funding will be offered to 650 companies in the industry, including onshore processing firms.

Owners of vessels less than 12 metres long will receive an initial payment of 50% of two months’ average earnings, administered by Marine Scotland.

10.45am: Dumfries and Galloway family desperate to get home

A crowdfunding page has been set up for a Dumfries and Galloway family stuck in Florida.

George McMillan, 43, his wife Kim, 42, and their children Finlay, 13, and Ruby, five, travelled to the popular holiday destination on March 5.

But the Leswalt family’s holiday plans were scuppered after Disney World Florida announced it would close due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr McMillan, who suffers from Crohn’s disease, said their flights to the UK were cancelled and they are soon to be kicked out of their hotel.

“It’s been very stressful, more so these last few days as in two days’ time that’s us out of the hotel,” he said.

“I have enough medication to see me through to about Saturday.”

Stranded: The McMillan family are stuck in Florida.

While flights have been arranged for their return, Mr McMillan said they are not guaranteed.

“There is so much conflicting information, we are effectively in the dark,” he added.

Crowdfunding page GoFundMe said a keyword search on its website showed a 54% increase in campaigns in the last week mentioning being stuck abroad, and a 33% increase in campaigns mentioning being stranded overseas.

Royal: Prince Charles and Camilla. Getty Images

10.43am: Prince Charles diagnosed with coronavirus in Scotland

Prince Charles has tested positive for coronavirus while in Scotland, his office has confirmed.

His wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, has also been tested but does not have the virus.

The tests were carried out by the NHS in Aberdeenshire, where the couple are staying at Balmoral.

10.30am: Six-month MOT exemption announced

Vehicle owners in Britain will be granted a six-month exemption from MOT testing, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced.

All cars, vans and motorcycles will be exempted from needing a test from March 30.

This will allow people to carry on with essential travel during the coronavirus pandemic, the DfT said.

Drivers were warned vehicles must be kept in a roadworthy condition.

Garages will remain open for essential repair work.

10.30am: Distillery produces 30 litres of hand sanitiser

Darnley’s Gin, created on the site of Kingsbarns Distillery on the outskirts of St Andrews, has completed its first-ever production of hand sanitiser to support the most vulnerable in the East Neuk of Fife during the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak.

Following guidance from the World Health Organisation, the company has produced 30 litres of the gel – which will now be distributed free of charge to churches, care homes, businesses and the most vulnerable individuals in the local area.

Cheers to that: Darnley’s Gin hand sanitiser.

William Wemyss, founder and managing director of Darnley’s Gin and Kingsbarns Distillery, said: “These are uncertain and challenging times for us all.  

“Family and community spirit have always been at the very heart of our business, and now more than ever, we aim to do all we can to assist our neighbours here in the East Neuk.”

10am: Fire service enacting ‘robust contingency plans’

Scotland’s top fire chief has reassured communities that the rescue service is taking all necessary measures to minimise disruption to its emergency response amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Martin Blunden, chief officer of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), said “robust contingency plans” are in place to manage increasing levels of sickness and self-isolation among firefighters and staff.

This includes the temporary suspension of the service’s home fire safety visit programme; halting attendance at external events; and inviting recently retired firefighters and specialist staff to return to the frontline to cover potential absences.

Speaking of the potential impact on the service’s core emergency response, chief officer Blunden said: “We continue to work to attend every 999 call that we receive.

“However, should we have a significant staff absence, our highly trained operations control staff will assess calls that we receive to make sure that we attend the calls where we can save life, or where we can prevent significant damage to buildings or properties.

“They will make that assessment, and we may eventually have to place calls into a queue until resources can be made available.

“But I can assure you that for every 999 call where you need our response, we will attend, and we will do everything we can to assist and save life.”

Kate Forbes
Finance secretary: Kate Forbes has pledged to put pressure on banks.

9.50am: Banks must ‘do their bit’

Scotland’s finance secretary has pledged to put pressure on banks if they fail to help individuals and businesses left struggling during the coronavirus outbreak.

Kate Forbes she would “expect” banks to be supportive to requests to defer payments from those who have fallen on hard times.

But if they do not, she said she would “most happily put pressure on them” as ministers “expect the banks to do their bit”.

Speaking on Wednesday morning, Ms Forbes said she had taken part in a virtual roundtable meeting on Tuesday with banks and other financial services.

During the talks, she said she had been stressing that “they need to be sympathetic to requests for payment deferrals, for mortgage holiday and other things”.

She said: “This is about getting through the next few months, this is about ensuring we still have an economy at the end of it and that businesses that have struggled can bounce back and people have money in their pockets.

“So if there are cases where banks are not sympathetic I will most happily put pressure on them. We expect the banks to do their bit to support communities and support businesses through the next few months.

“And where they are not, that should be flagged and I will most certainly take it up with the banks.”

9am: Persimmon and Bellway shutting construction sites

Housebuilders Bellway and Persimmon are shutting construction sites despite being allowed to stay open amid the lockdown to help protect workers from coronavirus.

Bellway said it was closing its 200 building sites across the country by the end of Friday, with site managers only allowed onto developments to maintain security or to hand over keys to buyers.

Persimmon confirmed it is also starting an “orderly shutdown” of its construction sites.

It said it would continue with essential work only, making partly-built homes safe, where otherwise customers could be left in a vulnerable position.

Bellway has already shut its sales offices and Persimmon is closing its sales network from Thursday, offering telephone and online-only customer support.

Glasgow Subway.
Glasgow Subway: Services will close early from Wednesday night.

8am: Glasgow Subway to close early

Glasgow Subway will close early each night as the country gets to grips with strengthened measures to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

From Wednesday, the underground system will close at 9pm when the last train leaves St Enoch.

Previous services continued to run as late as 11.30pm between Monday and Saturday.

Transport bosses said the move was for the “protection” of staff and passengers.

6am: ‘Safe and secure’ climate summit could be held

Police chiefs are set to be told a “safe and secure” COP26 can still be delivered in Glasgow despite concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

The Scottish Police Authority will meet via tele-conference on Wednesday and get an update on Police Scotland’s preparations for the United Nations climate conference, planned to take place in November at the Scottish Events Campus (SEC).

But members will also hear “that position may change over the coming months” as the coronavirus outbreak develops.

6am: Online marketplaces ‘must stamp out Covid-19 profiteering’

Amazon Marketplace and eBay are being urged to clamp down harder on coronavirus profiteering by sellers, after Which? found many everyday household products being offered at inflated prices.

The consumer group said it had found overpricing of cleaning products, thermometers, baby formula and tampons.

In several cases prices were around ten times what shoppers would normally expect to pay and in some instances the price inflation was even higher.

Which? said online marketplaces should be bringing in stricter controls to identify and prevent sellers charging unjustifiable high prices for essentials – and policies must be communicated clearly and directly with sellers.

However, both eBay and Amazon said they are taking tough action against “price gouging” – which happens when a seller dramatically inflates the price of goods – including preventing bad sellers from using accounts.

6am: Scottish courts to close to public as cases scaled back

Scottish courts will close to the public and significantly reduce the number of cases heard in person due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) has announced further measures to limit the number of people attending court, with a “bare minimum” of cases being heard.

From Wednesday, members of the public will be unable to attend trials and hearings, while all cases before sheriffs will take place in ten courts across Scotland.

Courts have already ceased all jury trials and adjourned all-but-essential summary criminal trials and civil hearings involving witnesses.

The High Court will continue to sit in both Edinburgh and Glasgow for urgent cases and the Court of Session will still deal with essential civil business, such as child abduction petitions and interim interdicts.

Scottish Government: Deputy first minister John Swinney.

6am: Childcare places ‘must go to most critical key workers’

Childcare places for the children of key workers “must be kept to an absolute minimum”, the deputy first minister has said.

John Swinney said that parents and employers should only take up the childcare places being offered if they are the “most-critical key workers” who cannot work from home and have no other care options.

The childcare places are being provided by local authorities, third sector and private providers to the most vulnerable children in society and those whose parents are deemed critical to the coronavirus response, including frontline medics and emergency service staff.

6am: The fight against coronavirus continues

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

On Monday night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Britons should only go out for exercise once a day under the draconian measures.

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

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

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