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.

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“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

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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.

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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 melville.dixon@ggc.scot.nhs.uk

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.”

Handout via Getty Images
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: 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:

Three households can mix over five-day Christmas period

They will be able to travel between local authorities and across the UK during December 23 and 27 to form a bubble.

Tom Merton via Getty Images

Up to three households will be allowed to mix indoors for up to five days over Christmas.

They will be able to travel between council areas and across the UK during December 23 and 27 to form a ‘bubble’ – but each household must only join one bubble.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said there was a risk in any relaxation of restrictions during the festive period and asked people to think carefully about the necessity of mixing, given the risk of spreading coronavirus.

She said: “We know that for some, contact with friends and family is crucial during this time as isolation and loneliness can hit people especially hard over the Christmas period. The ‘bubble’ approach aims to reduce this impact.

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“But we must be clear, there cannot be any further relaxation of measures for Hogmanay. Even this short relaxation will give the virus a chance to spread.

“Our priority is to suppress the transmission of Covid-19 and reduce the risk to the vulnerable and those who have spent so long shielding – and that involves abiding by the rules.

“Just because you can mix with others indoors over this time, that doesn’t mean you have to. If you choose to stick with the rules as they are, then you will be continuing the hard work to beat this virus and prevent its spread.”

Households have been urged to keep visits to no more than one or two days if possible and bubbles can gather in houses, at an outdoor place or a place of worship.

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In all other settings – such as hospitality – those who have formed a bubble should only socialise with members of their own household.

Households in a bubble will be asked to limit social contact before and after the Christmas period.

Coronavirus: 41 deaths as restriction levels remain unchanged

The First Minister confirmed the outcome of the latest review in the Scottish Parliament.

Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images

Another 41 people with coronavirus have died in Scotland, as East Lothian remained the only area to change restriction levels in the latest review.

The local authority moved from level three to level two on Tuesday morning, but Midlothian, where businesses had been hopeful of a change, will stay in level three.

Concern had been expressed about a rise in cases of the virus and test positivity rates there over the last week.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in the Scottish Parliament: “With the exception of East Lothian, which this morning moved from level three to level two, I can confirm that the Scottish Government is not proposing any changes to the levels that currently apply to each local authority area.

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“The latest data shows that across the whole country and within most local authority areas, the restrictions in place are having an impact.

“The number of new cases across the country has stabilised in recent weeks… We now have grounds for cautious optimism that numbers may be declining.”

The R number now stands somewhere between 0.8 and one, the First Minister added.

Currently, 11 council areas are at level four – the highest tier of restrictions – and will remain there until December 11.

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Clackmannanshire and Perth and Kinross are being monitored closely due to a rise in cases.

Scotland moved into a five-tier alert system at the beginning of the month in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus in high-prevalence areas but allow more freedom in places with fewer cases.

Councillor Derek Milligan, the leader of Midlothian Council claimed that many local businesses are facing ‘devastation’ after the area remained in level three.

Here is a full list of where each council area sits in the system:

Level zero

No local authority has been placed at level zero..

Level one
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Highland, Moray, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands.

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Level two

Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Argyll and Bute, Dumfries and Galloway, East Lothian, Scottish Borders.

Level three

Angus, Clackmannanshire, Dundee City, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Inverclyde, Midlothian, North Ayrshire, Perth and Kinross.

Level four

East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow City, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire, West Lothian.

Two-year-old boy named as police say death ‘suspicious’

A man has appeared in court in connection with the death of two-year-old Julius Czapla.

Police Scotland
Toddler: Two-year-old died following incident in Edinburgh.

A toddler who died at a home in Edinburgh has been named by police.

Emergency services were called to Muirhouse at around 9.30am on Saturday.

The two-year-old, named as Julius Czapla, died at the scene shortly after.

Police said on Tuesday that his death was now being treated as “suspicious”, following a post-mortem.

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Lucasz Czapla, 40, was arrested and charged with assault and three driving offences in connection with the death.  

He appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday and was remanded in custody.


Nurse mistook child’s fatal meningitis for gastroenteritis

The child suffered a seizure days after being seen by the nurse and later died in hospital.

LDRS
Death: Child died of meningitis after misdiagnosis at Fife hospital.

A health board has apologised after a nurse mistook a child’s fatal case of meningitis for gastroenteritis.

NHS Fife says it has accepted the findings of the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman (SPSO) after the child’s bereaved parent complained about the standard of care.

The youngster, named in public reports as ‘A’, had been taken to Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital feeling unwell.

A nurse practitioner diagnosed the child with gastroenteritis, or inflammation of the stomach, and sent them home.

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Days later, the child suffered a seizure and was admitted to another hospital where it was discovered they had pneumococcal meningitis – a life-threatening condition that inflames the membranes surrounding the spinal cord and brain. 

The child later died in hospital.

The child’s parent, anonymised in documents as ‘C’, complained to NHS Fife, arguing that their child should have been seen by a doctor before being discharged from the hospital, and that the original diagnosis had been unreasonable.

NHS Fife carried out a significant adverse event review that found faults in how the case had been handled.

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However, the parent then referred the case to the SPSO, dissatisfied with its findings.

After taking independent advice, the Ombudsman concluded in November that the original diagnosis had been “unreasonable”.

“We found some additional failings in record-keeping, and highlighted that we would have expected the misdiagnosis to have been identified when the nurse practitioner discussed A’s case with a doctor before discharge.

“We also considered there had been failings in the handling of C’s subsequent complaints,” it said in a written report on the case.

NHS Fife has been told to apologise for its failure to provide reasonable treatment and diagnosis, failing to keep reasonable records and failing to communicate reasonably with A’s parents.

The Ombudsman has also issued the health board with recommendations on how to improve its practice and complaint handling in the future.

Helen Buchanan, NHS Fife’s director of nursing, said: “Our aim is always to provide the best possible care for all of those who need our services.

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“However, we accept that was not the case in this instance and we want to offer our most sincere apologies to the family involved.

“We accept the findings of the Ombudsman and we are in the process of implementing their recommendations in full.”

Reporting by local democracy reporter Jon Brady


Scot Peter Sawkins crowned winner of Great British Bake Off

The 20-year-old accounting and finance student from Edinburgh was named as the victor on Tuesday.

C4/Love Productions/Mark Bourdillon) via PA Images
Winner: Peter Sawkins from Edinburgh.

Peter Sawkins has been crowned the first ever Scottish winner of Channel 4’s The Great British Bake Off.

The 20-year-old accounting and finance student from Edinburgh was named as the victor after becoming the youngest finalist in the programme’s history.

He saw off competition from Laura Adlington and Dave Friday in Tuesday’s episode of the amateur baking contest.

While Laura’s poor performance in the first two rounds of the final took her out of contention, judge Paul Hollywood said the competition was “as close to a draw that I’ve ever seen”.

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His fellow judge Prue Leith agreed it was “so close” between Peter and Dave, 30, a security guard from Hampshire.

The final saw the trio tasked with making custard slices, walnut whirls and a multi-layered showstopper dessert.

Peter took inspiration from the Scottish pudding Cranachan when making his custard slices, using raspberries, oats and whisky to flavour it.

Leith said they “looked incredible”, adding that he had made a “really lovely custard slice”, while Hollywood complimented their flavour.

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Dave also won praise for his coffee and caramel-flavoured custard slices, with Hollywood praising his “beautiful” pastry.

Bake Off: Full line-up. Channel 4/PA Images.

However, Laura’s final began with a disastrous first round after her custard failed to set and her slices failed to hold their shape.

The 31-year-old digital manager from Kent told the judges she was “embarrassed” to serve her slices to the judges, adding they looked as though they had been dropped on the floor.

Laura also finished bottom in the walnut whirl challenge, which was completed in very hot conditions, after she messed up her timings and failed to have all the components properly cooled in time for the tasting.

Dave excelled in the technical challenge, finishing in first place ahead of Peter.

The three contestants were tasked with creating a multi-layered dessert which reflected on their time on the show in the final showstopper challenge.

Laura decided to recreate some of her previous triumphs in a dessert which featured components including Chelsea buns, macarons and carrot and walnut cake.

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Leith praised her efforts, saying there is “nothing wrong with your baking”.

However, it was not enough to bring her back into contention.

Dave sought to redeem his failings in previous weeks by having a second go at some of the bakes he was criticised for in previous weeks, including brownies, chocolate babka and choux buns.

The judges gave mixed reviews of his attempt to right the wrongs of previous weeks.

Peter’s dessert featured components including a Victoria sandwich, choux buns and Battenberg biscuits and was labelled a “good effort” by Leith.

The showstopper round was watched by the entire crew for the 11th series of the programme, who formed a “bubble” in Down Hall Hotel near Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, throughout the duration of filming, after being tested for the virus and self-isolating.

Production of the series initially had to be delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic, however filming of the programme finished around the end of August.


MSPs pass Scotland’s ‘landmark’ sanitary products bill

Scotland will become the first country in the world to offer universal access to sanitary products.

STV News
Bill: MSPs pass legislation which aims to tackle period poverty.

Scotland will become the first country in the world to offer universal access to sanitary products.

On Tuesday, MSPs unanimously voted to pass the landmark Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill following a three-year campaign by Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon.

It’s hoped the new measures will go some way towards tackling period poverty, as well as addressing the stigma and taboo which has traditionally surrounded menstruation.

Sanitary products are currently free at schools, colleges and universities across Scotland. 

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However, the new bill places a legal duty on ministers to ensure anyone can access them at many different locations.

The bill faced initial opposition, with ministers arguing the cost could greatly exceed the estimated £9.7m a year.

Speaking ahead of the vote, Lennon said: “We are in the final miles of a long journey and I am heartened by the support for the Period Products Bill.

“I am optimistic that we will complete that groundbreaking journey today.

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“Scotland will not be the last country to make period poverty history – but it now has a chance to be the first.

“This law will ensure no-one has to go without essential period products.”


Care home inquiry plans revealed by health secretary

Holyrood's opposition parties passed a motion for the government to hold an 'immediate public inquiry'.

Andrew Bret Wallis via Getty Images
Care homes: Inquiry plans revealed.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman has announced plans to set up an inquiry about the impact of coronavirus on Scotland’s care homes but warned it will not be done quickly.

Holyrood’s opposition parties passed a motion on November 4 calling for the Scottish Government to hold an “immediate public inquiry” to look into why so many care home residents with Covid-19 had died during the pandemic.

Freeman initially rebuffed Parliament’s demands and instead suggested a UK-wide inquiry should be carried out at a later date.

But during Topical Questions on Tuesday, Freeman revealed her calls for a four-nations approach had been ignored and indicated the Scottish Government “will now begin the steps” to set up an inquiry.

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Despite an insistence she “would never disrespect the will of this Parliament”, Freeman said there were “significant steps” required to set up an inquiry and it could not be done immediately as the motion stated.

She told MSPs: “I have sought to see if it is possible to have a public inquiry that is at least in part rests on the four nations, I think that makes a great deal of sense.

“I regret I’ve not had a response so we will now begin the steps.
“But members should not be under any illusion that it is a quick exercise to set up a public inquiry.

“There are significant steps that need to be undertaken that involve the Lord President or Lord Advocate, and others.”

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Before the Scottish Government’s defeat over the Scottish Conservatives’ motion, Freeman had argued a coronavirus public inquiry should be held “once the country is through the immediacy of dealing with the pandemic”.

She had said the Scottish Government “wants and will welcome a public inquiry”, telling MSPs it could be “critical” in helping learn lessons from Covid-19.


Son spots late dad on STV archive footage days after death

Darran Robertson almost 'jumped off the couch' when he saw his late dad William on STV News.

STV News

A son who lost his father to coronavirus says he’s overjoyed to have discovered archive news footage of his dad that he never knew existed.

Darran Robertson has been reminiscing with his family after spotting his dad William – who died on November 9 – in pictures of the 1984 miners’ strike, which were shown on last Friday’s STV News.

The archive images were shown during a report on Booker prize winner Douglas Stuart and his portrayal of growing up in 1980s Scotland.

When scenes from a coal miners’ protest came on screen, there was a familiar face in the crowd for the Robertsons.

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Darran said: “I practically jumped off the couch and said to my mum, ‘that’s my dad’.”

His mum didn’t believe him at first.

Darran added: “And I paused it and I rewound it, and sure enough there he was, and it was just an incredible moment.

“Five minutes after we saw it on the television, my phone went ping, ping, ping with family members and friends.”

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William, from Larkhall in South Lanarkshire, who had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema, died in hospital 13 days after testing positive for Covid-19.

Ahead of Monday’s funeral service, his family reflected on the 73-year-old’s life.

William, who previously worked in the Cardowan Colliery in Stepps, had moved his family to Fife to take up a job at the Frances Colliery in Dysart, near Kirkcaldy.

He had followed his own father down the pit and worked as a coal miner for around a decade.

Darran recalled growing up during the miners’ strike.

He said: “I remember my dad going out to the picket lines. 

“To be honest, my main memory of that time is living in poverty. Local shops would donate food to social clubs and that is how we got fed because we had no money. 

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“It was a horrible time during the strikes but my dad loved working the mines. It was the one job in his life he really did love.“

William died at the University Hospital Wishaw. Relatives were unable to visit and relied on video calls with the grandfather-of-three as his health declined.

William’s granddaughter, Veronica Robertson said: “The nursing staff really did go above and beyond to get my papa’s phone working. 

“I did get to see him and hear him, and it was so nice to have that. He knew we were there.“

His family say those last video calls along with the STV News footage give them some comfort.

Darran added: “He would have loved [the footage] because he loved his telly.

“He loved watching the news and the quiz shows, so he would have been in his element.

“It really put on a smile on my face. It was like he was saying hello to me, that he’s okay, you know.”


Demand for urgent action after rise in probable suicides

Samaritans Scotland said every one of the deaths was 'a devastating loss', after 833 probable suicides in 2019.

Basak Gurbuz Derman via Getty Images
Mental health: Samaritans said action 'here and now' can help reduce future risk.

There were 833 probable suicides in Scotland last year, figures show, as a prevention charity called for urgent action.

Samaritans Scotland said every one of the deaths was “a devastating loss”, as the figure rose from 784 in 2018.

Of the total, 620 were men and 213 women, with the overall suicide rate increasing to 15.5 deaths per 100,000 – the highest rate since 2013.

Suicide rates peak among those aged 45 to 54 but the rate among young people, aged 14 to 25, increased for the second consecutive year.

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Samaritans Scotland, who provide free 24/7 help to those in distress, said the data was a powerful reminder of the urgent need to continue to improve suicide prevention support.

Rachel Cackett, executive director of Samaritans Scotland, said: “Every single one of the 833 deaths by suicide in 2019 represents a devastating loss with far-reaching consequences for family, friends and communities.

“It’s particularly concerning to see rates of suicide increase for almost all age groups and for rates among young people under 25 continuing to rise this year.

“And, as in previous years, people living in the most deprived communities in Scotland continue to be around three times more likely to take their own life, compared to those living in the wealthiest communities.”

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The data published on Tuesday covers 2019 only, with the charity saying it is still “too early” to know the long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms Cackett added: “By taking action, here and now, to renew and redouble their commitment to suicide prevention, government and services can help to reduce future risk.”

Rose Fitzpatrick, chair of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group, said: “Suicide is a complex issue and one which, as the 6% increase reported today (following a 15% increase in 2018) shows all too clearly, continues to challenge us in Scotland and elsewhere to do more to support the wellbeing, mental health and life circumstances of those at risk.”

Ms Fitzpatrick added: “Today’s news shows that now more than ever we need to encourage people of all ages to talk about suicide, to be able to ask for help and to feel confident to give help when it is needed”

Over the last five years in Scotland, 3697 people took their own life.
Samaritans provides free anonymous and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said the figures for 2019 were “devastating”.

He added: “More than two people a day, young and old, are dying by suicide. Hundreds of families have had their world turned upside down.”

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Scottish Greens health spokeswoman Alison Johnstone said: “These distressing statistics reveal that more than two people took their own lives each day in 2019.

“My thoughts go out to all those whose lives have been impacted by this tragedy, but of course condolences are not enough. This devastating loss of life shows the urgent need for the Scottish Government to improve access to mental health services.”

You can contact Samaritans by phone on 116 123 or visit here to find your nearest branch.


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