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.

More on:

Coronavirus: 16 more dead as cases rise to 2310 in Scotland

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the death toll in Scotland from Covid-19 now stands at 76.

Another 16 people have died from coronavirus overnight, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

It brings the Scottish death toll from Covid-19 to 76.

The number of confirmed positive cases in Scotland stands at 2310 – up 317 from Tuesday’s 1993.

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the rise at Holyrood on Wednesday.

A total of 147 patients are currently in intensive care, an increase of 12 from Tuesday.

The First Minister said the number of intensive care beds has been doubled – with the Scottish Government aiming to ensure it will be quadrupled, with operating theatres in NHS hospitals being re-purposed.

Sturgeon told MSPs that 1153 patients are currently in Scottish hospitals suffering from Covid-19.

The Scottish Government is also “working at pace” to boost its ability to test suspected cases, with the number of tests being done each day sitting at 1900 – a rise from 750 a few weeks ago.

Source: Scottish Government

Every health board area in Scotland has now reported cases after three were confirmed on the Western Isles and two on Orkney.

The highest number of confirmed Covid-19 patients remains in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area with 632 – a rise of 85 in a day.

There are 42 fresh cases in the Lothian region, taking the health board’s total to 311, 40 more each in Lanarkshire and Tayside, up to 284 and 254 respectively, and 22 new cases in Ayrshire and Arran, up to 199.

Forth Valley is up 15 to 146, Grampian is up 22 to 108, and Dumfries and Galloway has reached 100 cases, up eight in the last 24 hours,

There are 96 confirmed cases in Fife (up 20), 87 in the Borders (up ten), 58 in the Highlands (up seven) and 30 on Shetland (up one).

Across the UK, total patient deaths from coronavirus have risen to 2352 – a rise of 563 in 24 hours.

Temporary Covid-19 hospital at SEC ready ‘within two weeks’

The Glasgow site will initially have 300 beds available for coronavirus patients but could eventually treat 1000.

STV
Glasgow: Scottish Event Campus turned into hospital.

A temporary hospital being set up at the SEC in Glasgow to help deal with the Covid-19 outbreak will be ready “within a fortnight”, the First Minister has said.

She said the site would initially have 300 beds available with the intention to eventually be able to treat 1000.

Nicola Sturgeon stressed she hopes the temporary hospital will “not need to be used” amid expectations of coronavirus cases in Scotland reaching their peak within the next two to three weeks.

Addressing MSPs on Wednesday, the First Minister said measures had been taken across the NHS in Scotland to boost hospital and intensive care capacity.

The Scottish Government later confirmed the emergency Glasgow site will be named after Glaswegian First World War nurse Louisa Jordan.

Sturgeon said the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care is 147 as of Wednesday, an increase of almost 100 since the same time last week.

The increase in intensive care patients will be felt by frontline staff in the coming weeks, Sturgeon added.

A total of 1153 confirmed or suspected Covid-19 patients are being treated in Scottish hospitals at present, she told MSPs.

The number of intensive care beds available for Covid-19 patients has been boosted to 250, with plans to double it to 500 by end of the week and eventually raise it to 750.

This has partly been achieved by repurposing operating theatres in NHS hospitals, the First Minister said.

Another 16 people have died overnight after being diagnosed with the virus, taking Scotland’s death toll to 76, while total confirmed cases – believed to be an underestimate – rose by 317 to stand at 2310.

On the hospital at the SEC, Sturgeon said: “We expect this facility to be ready to care for patients within a fortnight.

“It will have 300 beds available initially with the capacity ultimately to care for 1000 patients if that proves to be necessary.

“But let me clear that our current hope and, indeed, our current expectation is that this hospital will not need to be used.

“However, we are preparing now, I think rightly, so that we are ready if necessary.”

Speaking later in Holyrood, health secretary Jeane Freeman said the temporary site will be named after Louisa Jordan, a First World War nurse from Glasgow who lost her life in Serbia.

In response to a question from MSP George Adam about the name of the hospital, she said: “The name that has been chosen for that hospital is the NHS Louisa Jordan.

“That is in honour of Louisa Jordan, who was born in Maryhill, joined the Scottish Women’s Hospital in 1914, served in Serbia during the First World War and was the daughter of a painter.

“She cared particularly for typhus patients but unfortunately contracted that disease and died herself at the age of 36 and is remembered every year in Serbia for the care and commitment she gave to them.”

Ms Freeman added: “It is very good indeed that she will now be remembered in her native Glasgow.”

The move comes after the temporary hospital at the Excel Centre in London was named the NHS Nightingale Hospital, after famed nurse Florence Nightingale.

Body of Billy McNeill’s missing grandson found in Amsterdam

Matthew McCombe’s parents said the 21-year-old was 'much loved by all'.

Family: Matthew McCombe was 'much loved by all'.

The body of Billy McNeill’s grandson has been found in Amsterdam 18 days after going missing.

Matthew McCombe’s parents said he was “much loved by all”, adding: “Our hearts are broken.”

The 21-year-old, whose mum is the daughter of late Celtic legend McNeill, was last seen on the Berlagebrug bridge at 8.15am on March 14.

Police launched a search while Mr McCombe’s mum appealed to the “Celtic family” to share his picture far and wide in an effort to help trace him.

Celtic FC also issued an appeal for help.

Amsterdam police said on Wednesday that a body had been found in the water at the Molenkade in Duivendrecht, about four miles south-east of the city.

A police spokesman confirmed the body was that of the missing Scot.

He said: “This morning we found a corpse in the water at the Molenkade in Duivendrecht.

“Our colleagues discovered that this is the missing Matthew McCombe.

“We are investigating the cause of death.”

His parents – Paula and Charlie – posted a message on Facebook, stating: “It is with great sadness that we are announcing our son Matthew McCombe’s body was found this morning.

“Matthew was much loved by all and our hearts are broken.

“We would like to thank everyone who has helped in the search for Matthew and for the love, compassion and kindness that has been extended to us since our arrival in Amsterdam.

“As a family we would kindly ask for our privacy to be respected in these sad times.”

Celtic shared a statement expressing their ‘devastation’ at the news.

The club’s chief executive Peter Lawwell said: “The passing of Matthew is devastating news for the entire McNeill family and our thoughts and prayers are very much with all family members at such a very difficult time.

“We know the search for Matthew has been long and difficult and everyone at the club is hugely saddened that it has concluded in this way, with such a heartbreaking result.

“For such a fine young man to be taken so early in his life is a real tragedy. Clearly, we will be here to offer the McNeill family our absolute, heartfelt support.”

Hibs have also paid tribute.

A spokesperson said: “Everyone at Hibernian is saddened at the news of the passing of Matthew McCombe, grandson of Billy McNeill.

“Matthew was once part of our academy set-up, playing alongside the likes of Fraser Murray and Ryan Porteous. 

“Our thoughts are with family and friends at this time.”

Edinburgh’s summer festivals cancelled due to coronavirus

Capital's big five annual arts festivals won't go ahead this year for the first time in their history.

Millions of people travel to Edinburgh every summer for the capital's festivals.

Edinburgh’s summer festivals have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Fringe, International Festival, Jazz and Blues Festival, Book Festival and Military Tattoo announced their plans on Wednesday.

It’s the first time the festivals have been cancelled in their 70-year history.

In a widely expected move, Edinburgh’s council leader said it “was a profoundly difficult decision”.

Tens of thousands of performances take place in the capital every summer in what is widely believed to be the biggest event of its kind anywhere in the world.

Artists and audiences visit Edinburgh each summer from across the world, and with travel restrictions in place indefinitely to fight Covid-19, organisers had no choice but to pull the plug.

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: “It’s heartbreaking that the Fringe and our sister August festivals will not take place as planned this summer.

“However, having taken advice and considered all the options, we  collectively believe this is the only appropriate response.”

Council leader Adam McVey said support would be offered to the cultural sector.

He said: “This was a profoundly difficult decision– leaving a massive gap in our Capital – but clearly it was the right one.

“Our thoughts are very much with all those fantastic artists, writers, performers and organisations who were working so hard to prepare for another busy festival season.”

Councillor McVey added: “We’ll continue to work with all of our citizens, colleagues and stakeholders to do everything we can to make sure we come through 2020 and look forward to again bringing the world to Edinburgh and Edinburgh to the world for our summer festivals in 2021.”

More on:

Live: Coronavirus news updates from across Scotland

People have been told to stay at home in an effort to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

4.12pm: Passenger numbers on CalMac ferries plummet

CalMac.
CalMac ferries: Numbers drop by 95 per cent.

Passenger numbers on CalMac boats have dropped by 95% since rules on essential ferry travel were put in place.

The operator introduced an essential lifeline timetable last week aimed at keeping essential goods, services and people going to and from the islands.

Since then the company has carried just 2593 passengers compared to 57,233 for the same period last year, a drop of 95%.

Some services are running with just one or two passengers along with the essential goods and services.

“It is hugely encouraging that the public are paying attention to the Government advice of do not travel unless your journey is absolutely essential,” said CalMac’s managing director Robbie Drummond.

3.30pm: Sealed pods to be used in transport of patients from islands

Sealed isolation pods will be used by the Scottish Ambulance Service to safely airlift Covid-19 patients.

The new adult-sized incubators, known as EpiShuttles, are currently being tested and are expected to come into use within days.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman said the technology will enable safe transport of patients while protecting crew members.

She confirmed the ambulance service will kit out two Loganair twin otter planes with the shuttles, one by Friday and the other within two weeks, which will provide airlifts from islands with appropriate landing facilities.

The ambulance service said so far eight shuttles have been bought, two of which have been received and are currently being tested.

A further two are expected to arrive on April 17 and four more by mid-May, costing more than £500,000 in total.

2.45pm: Amazon worker tests positive for coronavirus

A worker at the Amazon depot in Dunfermline has tested positive for coronavirus.

An Amazon spokesperson said: “We are supporting the individual who is now in quarantine.

“Since the early days of this situation, we have worked closely with local authorities to proactively respond, ensuring we continue to serve customers while taking care of our associates and we’re following all guidelines from local officials about the operations of our buildings. 

“We have implemented proactive measures at our facilities to protect employees including increased cleaning at all facilities, maintaining social distance in the FC, and adding distance between drivers and customers when making deliveries.” 

2.15pm: New benefits put on hold

Plans to introduce new benefits in Scotland have been put on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Social security secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville told MSPs on Wednesday that “tough decisions” are having to be made across departments.

She said the Child Disability Payment and the Scottish replacement for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) will be delayed.

Staff at Social Security Scotland are largely working from home, she said, and difficulties created by the pandemic mean “business as usual is not an option.”

While existing payments will continue to be delivered, the two new benefits will be pushed back for at least several months.

They were expected to start in 2020.

The Scottish Child Payment, which will help families on low incomes and was on track to begin this autumn, has also been postponed.

12.10pm: 16 more dead as cases rise to 2310 in Scotland

Another 16 people have died from coronavirus overnight, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

It brings the Scottish death toll from Covid-19 to 76.

The number of confirmed positive cases in Scotland stands at 2310 – up 317 from Tuesday’s 1993.

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the rise at Holyrood on Wednesday.

12pm: Edinburgh’s summer festivals cancelled

Edinburgh’s summer festivals have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Fringe, International Festival, Jazz and Blues Festival, Book Festival and Military Tattoo announced their plans on Wednesday.

It’s the first time the festivals have been cancelled in their 70-year history.

11.30am: Coronavirus Bill passes stage one at Holyrood

The Scottish Government’s emergency coronavirus Bill passed the first stage of parliamentary scrutiny after plans to suspend jury trials were dropped.

The provision, which would scrap juries in the most serious cases in Scottish courts, proved controversial with other parties and members of the legal profession following the publication of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill on Tuesday.

Constitutional relations secretary Mike Russell confirmed another Bill will be brought before Holyrood to address necessary changes to the justice system during the pandemic.

In another concession from the Scottish Government, Europe minister Jenny Gilruth announced amendments will be tabled to address concerns over the extension of the deadline for freedom of information (FOI) requests, which the Bill looked to push from 20 to 60 working days.

11am: Scottish charities to receive £1.4m Kiltwalk boost

Scottish charities hit by the coronavirus pandemic will share a £1.4m cash boost from a fundraising walk – despite the event being postponed.

The Glasgow Kiltwalk was due to take place on Sunday, April 26 but organisers decided it could no longer go ahead in light of the virus outbreak.

They urged participants to keep fundraising and £720,000 has been collected for charity.

Philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter, of The Hunter Foundation, which underwrites the Kiltwalk, has now announced he will double the funds raised instead of his planned 50% increase.

The cash will be given to hundreds of charities including Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, Beatson Cancer Charity, amputee support organisation Finding Your Feet and Calum’s Cabin, which organises breaks for children with cancer and their families.

Food banks such as Paul’s Parcels in Shotts, North Lanarkshire, are also being helped and the charity said the cash will enable them to double the number of families given food parcels.

10.45am: BP cuts spending amid ‘brutal’ conditions

BP said it is acting quickly to strengthen its finances amid the “most brutal environment for oil and gas businesses in decades” after prices plummeted in the face of coronavirus.

The oil giant said it will reduce its capital spending plans by 25% – with a new forecast of $12bn – as part of cost reductions.

However, it stressed that no BP employee will be laid off during the next three months as a result of virus-related cost-cutting.

The company added that it will reduce output from its US shale oil and gas business, with plans to cut investment in its shale arm by $1bn.

The price of oil has crashed in recent weeks due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, with Brent crude falling to an 18-year low on Monday.

BP said it expects to achieve $2.5bn in cost savings by the end of 2021 as it looks to mitigate the impact of lower prices.

10.30am: Stranded tourists wait for news on charter flights

Hundreds of thousands of UK citizens stranded abroad face an anxious wait for details of rescue flights to be announced.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has set aside £75m to charter flights from destinations where commercial routes have been severed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Repatriation flights operated from Peru and Tunisia on Tuesday, but details of further flights have not been revealed.

On March 23, the FCO advised all UK residents who were travelling abroad to return home.

Hundreds of thousands of people have since travelled back on commercial flights, but transport secretary Grant Shapps estimates around 300,000 are still overseas.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said on Monday that only 1400 UK nationals had been repatriated on flights chartered by the Government.

He said that once flights have been chartered they will be promoted in the Government’s travel advice and by embassies and high commissions in relevant countries.

He acknowledged the FCO has not “faced an international challenge quite like this before” but insisted “we are going to rise to it”.

10.20am: Manufacturing sector ‘knocked sideways’

UK manufacturers had their worst month in eight years in March as the economy was ground down by efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus across the world.

Manufacturing output fell to its worst extent since July 2012, according to the data from IHS Markit and CIPS.

The closely watched Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 47.8 in March, down from 51.7 the month before. If the sector scores below 50 it means that it is contracting.

Direct disruption from Covid-19 created a perfect storm, along with lower market confidence and companies shutting down to slow production and new business, the survey found.

10am: Scottish Government drops trial without jury plans

Controversial plans to temporarily end trial by jury have been dropped from the Scottish Government’s emergency coronavirus legislation.

Constitution Secretary Mike Russell told Holyrood that they were withdrawing that section of the Coronavirus Scotland Bill “to allow an intensive and wide-ranging discussion by all interested parties, including victims, whose voice has not yet been fully heard, about the right way to ensure that justice continues to be done in Scotland”.

Mr Russell also said that he expected the Scottish Government to bring a “standalone Bill” back to the parliament on the next sitting day – believed to be April 21 – on how the justice system will function during the outbreak.

9am: Taylor Wimpey cancels bosses’ bonuses

Top bosses at Taylor Wimpey will not get their added rewards this year after the company closed all of its construction sites.

The housebuilder said that annual bonuses will be scrapped and the board will take a 30% pay cut, as it tries to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

The company also plans to cancel a 2% annual salary increase for its executive directors which was set to come into force on April 1.

“The objective of these changes is to conserve cash, with a particular focus on protecting the long-term financial security of the business as a whole, for the benefit of all of the company’s stakeholders,” Taylor Wimpey said in a statement to shareholders on Wednesday morning.

The housebuilder last month shut all its construction sites, show homes and sales centres. It was later joined by fellow builders Bellway, Persimmon and Barratt Developments.

8.45am: Schoolboy braves the shave for nurses

A kind-hearted six-year-old boy has shaved his head to raise money for hardworking NHS nurses.

Bannon McLellan, from Fallin in Stirling, said: “I wanted to raise money for the nurses so I could help people.

“I like it. I’m calling myself baldy.”

Fundraiser: Bannon McLellan shaved his head.

The St Margaret’s Primary School pupil raised £500 in 48 hours.

As a newborn baby, he spent a week in Forth Valley Royal Hospital’s neonatal unit. He had fluid in his lungs and was in an incubator fully ventilated. 

His mum, Tammie, said she has never forgotten the kindness shown by the “amazing” nurses and goes back to the hospital every Christmas with chocolates to say thank you.

Having seen all the hard work being done by NHS workers during this Covid-19 pandemic, she stated: “We wanted to give something back to help everyone in the frontline.”

8.30am: Householders urged to compost garden waste

Aberdeenshire residents tending to their gardens during the coronavirus lockdown are being encouraged to compost their garden waste.

The recommendation from Aberdeenshire Council comes following the closure of the authority’s household waste and recycling centres across the region.

Home compost bins can be purchased through the council and enables residents to compost their garden waste as well as some food waste.

Residents are also urged not to burn their garden waste or leave items at the gates of the closed recycling centres.

Ellon: Recycling centres in Aberdeenshire have been closed.

A spokesperson for Aberdeenshire Council said: “Burning waste is not lawful and we strongly advise against it.

“We have some guidance on our website for how to properly dispose of garden waste.

“We understand many householders are struggling with excess waste as a result of the HRC closures. However, we are urging residents to be responsible with their rubbish and not leave bags at the gates. 

“This is considered fly-tipping and legal action will be taken against those responsible.

“Additionally, loose bags pose a direct health risk to our staff, who need to handle these materials. 

“We advise residents dispose of materials at home where possible, or store recyclable goods until the centres reopen.”

8.15am: Charity delivers 2300 food hampers to those in need

A Glasgow-based charity that aims to tackle poverty has delivered 2300 food hampers to those in need since the coronavirus crisis began.

Fare (Family Action Rogerfield and Easterhouse) Scotland has been raising funds through its JustGiving page to provide the most vulnerable people with extra food.

Councillor Thomas Kerr praised the charity and all those who have donated.

He added: “The slogan ‘People Make Glasgow’ has never been truer than over these past few weeks as our city battles against the coronavirus pandemic and Fare are just one of the hundreds of organisations who have made a real and lasting difference to so many in our communities.

“Delivering 2300 food hampers – that’s 60,000 meals for vulnerable people in the East End – is truly inspiring.”

7.55am: Tens of thousands of safety equipment donated

Almost 32,000 pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been donated to Glasgow City Council following a plea for donations last week.

Glasgow’s lord provost Phillip Braat thanked the organisations and individuals for all the supplies received so far but urged Glaswegians to keep donating if they could to protect communities and frontline staff.

City Chambers: Glasgow council has appealed for more donations. Getty Images

Mr Braat said that Glasgow needed to prepare for the “long haul” as the crisis continued.

He added: “These past few weeks have been very momentous as the country endures lockdown. We need to realise that this crisis is extremely severe and will not end in the next few weeks.

“There is still a long way to go. That’s why I am re-appealing to the generosity of individuals and organisations who can afford to provide more supplies.”

Appealing for gloves, aprons, face masks and hand sanitiser, the lord provost added: “I want to assure the public that any donations however big or small will be greatly received and will all go towards keeping you and our frontline staff safe during these difficult times.”

7.20am: Major insurers pull out of travel insurance deals

Nearly half of the UK’s major insurers have pulled out of the travel insurance market since the coronavirus pandemic sparked chaos around the world, Which? has found.

The consumer group contacted 75 insurance providers to find out if and how they were amending their provision of travel insurance following the outbreak.

Which? researchers found that 31 insurers, including household names such as Aviva, LV= and Direct Line, had temporarily suspended the sale of travel insurance to new customers as a result of the pandemic.

A further 13 had changed aspects of their policies.

Existing customers who booked their trips and purchased their insurance before the outbreak, or before insurers amended their terms to exclude claims related to coronavirus, should still be able to claim for any non-refundable costs of cancelled holidays or travel plans as a result of the virus, Which? said.

7.15am: Briton dies aboard coronavirus-hit cruise ship

A British national is among four people to have died on a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship embroiled in a bitter dispute over plans to disembark passengers in the US.

In what is being described as an unfolding humanitarian crisis, so far two of the four people to have died on the cruise ship Zaandam have been confirmed to have had Covid-19, with nine people aboard testing positive and 189 reporting flu-like symptoms.

A spokesman for Holland America Line, which operates the Zaandam, said: “One of the deceased passengers is from the UK.

“Due to US laws, we cannot provide any additional medical and health details.”

The Zaandam, which is carrying more than 200 British nationals, and its sister ship the Rotterdam, passed through the Panama Canal on Monday after being denied entry to several ports. 

Both ships are seeking to dock in Florida later this week.

7.10am: Petrol stations ‘will be forced to close’

Many petrol stations will be forced to close due to a lack of sales and their businesses becoming unprofitable, a trade association has warned.

The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) stated that sites in rural areas where fuel use has collapsed the most are particularly vulnerable.

The PRA, which represents independent fuel retailers who account for 70% of UK forecourts, advised motorists to check their petrol station is still open before going to fill up.

Fuel: Petrol stations could close due to Covid-19.

It will attempt to keep a “strategic network of petrol stations” open across the country.

PRA chairman Brian Madderson said: “To help freight move and help key workers travel safely and independently through this period of crisis, petrol filling stations must remain open but this is proving to be a challenge.

“Fuel retailers are having to maintain pump prices at previous levels to avoid suffering significant stock losses.”

The PRA cited figures published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) over the weekend which it said show that three out of five petrol stations have full storage tanks.

It noted that independent retailers would have bought this fuel days or weeks earlier at much higher wholesale prices than those available today.

The trade body also said fuel consumption has fallen by more than 70% due to the pandemic.

7am: ‘Pay extra attention to electrical safety’

People working from home have been warned about overloading sockets, daisy chaining, and charging devices on beds during lockdown.

Electrical Safety First is concerned that many may be putting themselves at unnecessary risk due to unsafe electrical set-ups, amid a rise in remote working due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Safety tips

  • Don’t charge electrical items on beds. Always charge on a hard, flat, non-flammable surface.
  • Avoid overloading sockets and extension leads.
  • Keep your workstation tidy.
  • Be mindful of cables – they can present a trip hazard.
  • Don’t daisy chain extension leads.
  • If cooking at lunchtime, be mindful not to get distracted by emails or work calls that may result in the hob being left on and unattended.

6.30am: Scotland captain backs charity helping elderly

Scotland captain Andy Robertson has given his backing to a charity supporting elderly people during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Liverpool defender said he wants people to know Age Scotland, which has experienced a tenfold increase in calls during the Covid-19 outbreak, is there for them.

Captain: Liverpool and Scotland defender Andy Robertson. SNS Group

Age Scotland typically receives around 70 calls a week but this has spiked to more than 700.

Robertson said: “I want people to know that Age Scotland is here for them.

“Their fantastic helpline is offering great support to older people and their families as we all adapt to a new way of life for a while.”

For support, call 0800 12 44 222.

6.30am: Domestic abuse will be prosecuted ‘firmly’ during lockdown

Domestic abuse cases will be prosecuted firmly and fairly during the coronavirus pandemic, Scotland’s senior law officer has said.

The Lord Advocate, James Wolffe QC, told victims he knows they may be more at risk during the lockdown but said public safety remains a priority for law enforcement during this period.

Mr Wolffe’s assurances come a year after the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 came into effect, criminalising coercive and controlling behaviour towards a partner or ex-partner.

6.30am: New contactless card limit rolled out

Shoppers will now be able to make contactless card payments with a new higher limit of up to £45 per transaction.

The limit in shops is increasing from £30, as part of measures to combat coronavirus.

It will mean more payments can be made without the need to handle cash and it will also reduce the number of occasions when people need to input their pin on a machine when making payments.

An increased limit was already being considered but the process has been accelerated as part of the finance and payments industry’s response to Covid-19.

6.30am: Holyrood to vote on emergency legislation

MSPs are expected to pass emergency legislation to tackle coronavirus in a rare one-day sitting on Wednesday.

Introduced on Tuesday by constitutional relations secretary Mike Russell, the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill will make changes to the legal system, rental sector and public services as a result of the virus.

MSPs will be asked to grant emergency status to the Bill on Wednesday morning, allowing the three-stage process to take place in a single day.

6.30am: The fight against coronavirus continues

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

Nine days ago, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Britons should only go out for exercise once a day.

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 in the same house.

Householder’s vintage lightbulbs cause chaos for pilots

Pilots flying in and out of Glasgow Airport reported radio interference between 6000 and 10,000ft in the air.

Ofcom / Pixabay
Vintage: The lightbulbs caused interference for pilots.

A householder caused chaos for Glasgow Airport’s runways after buying vintage lightbulbs online.

Experts from Ofcom’s spectrum assurance team were mobilised by National Air Traffic Services (Nats) to uncover the root of the problem when pilots flying in and out of the city reported radio interference between 6000 and 10,000ft in the air.

The interference swamped the airways and cut off voice communications between the controllers on the ground and the aircraft.

The Ofcom team used flight-tracking software along with vehicle-mounted receivers and handheld equipment to track down the source of the interference – which turned out to be four vintage lightbulbs a homeowner had recently bought online.

In a report, Ofcom said: “Due to the construction of the bulbs, they were found to be radiating a ‘noise’ when they were switched on that affected a wide range of spectrum, rather than just one frequency. 

“The house was directly underneath the flightpath of the aircraft and therefore every time an aircraft passed and the bulbs were in use, the crew suffered the interference.

“Unfortunately for the owner – but fortunately for the crew and passengers of flights in and out of Glasgow airport – the bulbs were removed from the sockets and checks with Nats and aircraft operators confirm that the area is now free of interference.”

Ofcom said its spectrum enforcement team will follow up the case with the lightbulb supplier, to make sure the bulbs aren’t sold to any more “unwitting customers”.

Cancer patients voice concerns over impact on treatments

Patients say the coronavirus outbreak has 'thrown everything up in the air'.

Cancer patients have voiced their concerns over the spread of coronavirus and how it is impacting their treatments. 

Earlier this week it was announced all breast, cervical and bowel screenings will be postponed for at least 12 weeks to allow the NHS to deal effectively with the impact of Covid-19.

Treatments are also being changed, with some patients having their sessions deferred and others given different drugs so they are not prone to infection.

Lisa Fleming, who was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer in 2017, is worried about the impact on medical trials.

She said: “It’s hard enough to live with this disease but add in Covid-19 and it’s just thrown everything up in the air.

“What is going to happen with medical trials as a number of stage four patients are dependent on medical trials to prolong our lives?

“So to answer these questions, I think would give us just a little bit more reassurance.”.

Seamus Tahan, regional lead cancer clinician west of Scotland, explains that changes are being made to reduce the risk for patients.

He said: “Whereas maybe a week or two ago we might have recommended for example an operation, we might now be considering treatments that have an equal outcome or a very similar outcome but that might be a better treatment at this point in time in relation to the risk associated with that treatment.”

Matthew Smith was diagnosed with a brain tumour four years ago, and despite a prognosis of 12 to 18 months, he’s now in a stable place.

‘We are quite lucky that Matthew has been really healthy and just the thought of anything changing that is just really really stressful for both of us and I just kind of want to bubble wrap him.’

Hayley Smith

However the spread of coronavirus has been cause for concern, with Matthew’s wife Hayley worried about the virus impacting her husband’s health.

“We are quite lucky that Matthew has been really healthy and just the thought of anything changing that is just really really stressful for both of us and I just kind of want to bubble wrap him,” she said.

Matthew added: “My results are actually next week so that is also playing on my mind very much so, in terms of the result itself and any ongoing treatment that might be required and what impact that would have on me.”

Rob Murray, from Cancer Support Scotland, says that despite screenings being cancelled, anyone who has cancer symptoms should still visit their GP.

He said: “I think it’s really important though that people across Scotland know that if they do have any symptoms for breast, bowel or cervical cancer that they follow the guidance that the FM gave yesterday and that is to go and see your GP.”

However some charities are already adapting to the changes, with Cancer Support Scotland offering new online counselling sessions.

Denise Atcheson, who is a counsellor, said: “It’s really really important that while we’re not able to offer a face-to-face service that we can still be there to offer that emotional support and wellbeing support for people who are affected by cancer.”

More on:

Driver who fled from police left seven people injured

The 28-year-old was chased by a marked police car with its blue lights on in December.

Investigation: Pirc said motorist was solely responsible for crash.

A motorist who sped off from police was solely responsible for a crash that left seven people injured, an investigation has found.

The 28-year-old was chased by a marked police car with its blue lights on in December after officers recognised him as someone without a driving licence.

An investigation by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) found he “sped away, driving dangerously and at excessive speed”.

Officers pursued him for a short time, which Pirc said was “appropriate” in the circumstances.

They were then told to stop by the police area control room (ACR) as there were no road policing units available and no other tactics could be used to halt the car.

The Pirc report said: “The man then drove away from police along the A98, with witnesses describing the car as travelling at speeds of up to 100mph.

“Further along the road, the man attempted to drive between two cars sitting almost side by side, resulting in the car colliding into the back of one of the cars, causing that vehicle and the man’s car to spin off the road and collide with trees.”

The passenger in the 28-year-old man’s car and a female passenger in the other vehicle suffered serious injuries in the crash, with the man’s passenger airlifted to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

Four people in the other car, including two young children, suffered minor injuries and were taken to Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin, Moray.

The 28-year-old man also suffered minor injuries.

Investigators found he was to blame for the collision.

The Pirc report states: “The man, who had numerous opportunities prior to the crash to stop his car or alter his driving behaviour, but chose not to, was solely responsible for the crash.”

The collision happened around 3.15pm on Thursday, December 26, 2019, on the A98 Fochabers to Banff road in Moray.

Pirc said the man was later convicted of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and was sentenced to 30 months behind bars.

He was also banned from driving for nine years and three months.

Local area commander, Chief Inspector Norman Stevenson, of Police Scotland said: “Above all, my thoughts are with all those who were injured on the night – it would have been a very traumatic experience for everyone involved and one which could have been avoided was it not for the reckless and dangerous actions of the driver in question.

“He is currently serving a prison sentence and received a driving ban.”

He added: “Police Scotland’s priority is to protect the public and keep people safe.

“I acknowledge the officers’ appropriate response on the night.” 

Musician stages car park gigs for care home residents

Chris White has found a way to continue his care home gigs from a safe distance during the coronavirus crisis.

A musician has been staging car park gigs outside care homes to help entertain residents during the coronavirus lockdown.

Chris White has performed in Perthshire homes for the last year but has moved his inside gigs outdoors to help keep his audience safe.

He said: “There’s something lovely about being able to sing in order to bring pleasure to other people.

“In care homes it’s so hard since they’ve had to stop all visitors so it’s so important to boost morale with live music.

“Good morale makes you feel more resilient and that’s really important in the current climate.”

Chris makes sure he picks the most central place in the care home’s garden so the majority of the residents can see and hear him.

This week he’s performed in Blairgowrie where many of the residents listened outside in the fresh air.

Audience: Residents have been taking chairs outside or listening from bedroom windows.

The musician has performed outdoors for six care homes across Perthshire and hopes to sing to more people during this pandemic.

He’s also encouraging more musicians to get involved in their communities to bring joy in an uncertain time.

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