Impeccable applause for NHS staff
A national applause has taken place as people across Scotland showed their appreciation for NHS staff working hard during the coronavirus pandemic.
The gesture to those “working at the front line” kicked off at 8pm and saw grateful individuals and families gather at their front doors, gardens and windows to “clap for our carers”.
Death toll across the United Kingdom rises to 578
A total of 578 people who have tested positive for coronavirus in the United Kingdom have died as of 5pm on Wednesday, the Department of Health said.
The figure represents a jump of 113 in a day.
As of 9am on Thursday, there have been 11,658 confirmed positive cases across the UK.
Health board suspends home births to protect families and staff
NHS Lanarkshire has restricted neonatal visiting and suspended home births to protect families and staff from coronavirus.
The health board said it understands this is “an extremely difficult time” for pregnant woman but said it needs to make sure the maternity service is safe.
Cheryl Clark, chief midwife at NHS Lanarkshire said: “One birthing partner is very much welcome during labour.
“However, to help tackle the spread of COVID-19 and maintain a safe maternity service for all women and their families, NHS Lanarkshire has taken the difficult decision to further restrict neonatal visiting as well as suspend our homebirth service with immediate effect.
“We understand this is an extremely difficult time for all pregnant women and their families but we need ensure our maternity service is safe. Mums-to-be should discuss any concerns with their community midwife.
“We are asking pregnant women who are scheduled to attend for ultrasound scans, appointments in our maternity day bed unit, antenatal clinics and maternity triage to attend on their own.”
‘Clap for our carers’: Applause for NHS staff at 8pm
A national applause is set to take place to show appreciation for NHS staff working hard during the coronavirus pandemic.
The gesture to those “working at the front line” will be made across the country at 8pm, with people due to gather at their front doors, gardens and windows to “clap for our carers”.
“During these unprecedented times they need to know that we are grateful,” the organisers said.
Government to pay self-employed 80% of earnings
Self-employed people whose jobs are impacted by the coronavirus outbreak will be eligible for a grant to cover 80% of their monthly profits up to £2500 a month.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the support package for self-employed people would cover 80% of average earnings over the past three years.
However, he warned the scheme may not be open for applications until early June.
We don’t have lift-off: Scotland’s National Airshow cancelled
Scotland’s National Airshow, which was due to take place in the summer, has been cancelled.
The event had been scheduled for Saturday, July 25, at the National Museum of Flight in East Lothian.
However, a move has been taken to scrap the airshow due to the outbreak of coronavirus.
A statement said: “This is in light of the advice and measures currently being implemented by the UK and Scottish Governments in response to the outbreak of Covid-19.
“Currently all of our museums are closed until further notice. This includes the National Museum of Scotland, the National Museum of Flight, the National Museum of Rural Life and the National War Museum at Edinburgh Castle.”
Former factory in Inverclyde offered as potential field hospital
The owners of a former factory are offering up the facility to be used as an NHS field hospital in the fight against coronavirus.
Sandy and James Easdale, as well as Seamus Shields, have put forward the vacant IBM site near Greenock for free to help during the pandemic.
The vacant 65,000sq ft building at Spango Valley has a canteen, toilet and office facilities in place together with a network of utilities.
It comes after Dr Catherine Calderwood, Scotland’s chief medical officer, revealed sites are being considered for such a facility.
The Easdales, owners of McGill’s Buses, said: “The NHS and the Scottish Government are looking at potential options for field hospitals in Scotland, similar to what is being facilitated at the Excel in London.
“We know there will be specific criteria required by the NHS but this is a vacant, large capacity building which is easily accessed in the west of Scotland.
“Contact has already been made with local politicians and Scottish Government regarding its availability and should it be required then we can make progress rapidly on its handover.”
Call for careful consideration of unplanned pregnancies
Couples have been asked to consider using contraception and whether the coronavirus epidemic is the right time to have an unplanned pregnancy.
The advice came from Scotland’s chief medical officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was asked if the Scottish Government is expecting a rise in the number of pregnancies as a consequence of people being ordered not to leave their homes.
She passed the question to Dr Calderwood, who is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist.
Dr Calderwood said: “As the obstetrician in the room, this has occurred to me that in fact we do need to be advising people about having time on their hands.
“The labour ward is always much busier nine months after Valentine’s day so we have that to consider.
“The serious point is that almost all maternity services are emergency services – they can’t be time limited, you can’t pause like elective surgery.”
She added: “It has been suggested to me that we talk to people about contraception.
“About 50% of pregnancies are unplanned so perhaps think about whether this is the right time to have an unplanned pregnancy.
“This (coronavirus outbreak) will last for some time, the emergency services – the maternity services – will continue to run, though, so we have planned for all of the babies that would have been born to have exactly the same care that they would have had outside of this pandemic.
“But people are making difficult choices and we would always encourage people to think: ‘Is this the right time for me, am I in the best of health, is this a good time for me to start thinking about having a baby?'”
Medical staff book hundreds of nights at hotel
Medical staff have booked hundreds of nights at a hotel offering them free rooms and meals during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ten Place Hill Hotel in Edinburgh said since it launched the initiative on Friday more than 232 room nights have been booked to accommodate guests over the coming weeks.
The hotel, owned by The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) and operated by Surgeons Quarter, is less than a mile from the Royal Hospital for Sick Children and three miles from the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.
It is urging more workers to make use of its 129 bedrooms and is now including a free evening meal as well as a continental packed breakfast.
RCSEd president Professor Michael Griffin praised the initiative.
He said: “Covid-19 is unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes – and I know the strain it is putting across all aspects of our wonderful health service.
“The team at Ten Hill Place are giving tired workers vital respite to allow them to focus on caring for the country.”
Harry Potter author pays tribute to ‘frontline heroes’
JK Rowling, Geri Horner and Ant and Dec are among the celebrities who have spoken out to celebrate health workers, supermarket staff and other key workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
As large numbers of people continue to tackle the fallout from the virus, Harry Potter author Rowling shared a poignant message on Twitter.
She wrote that she was thinking of “medical staff, supermarket workers, the military and all public service employees putting themselves on the line for our communities”.
She added: “We can only aspire to deserve you. Stay safe, everyone x.”
Wind farm cash used to help communities
Communities across Scotland are using cash from wind farms to help them cope through the coronavirus crisis.
Wind farm developers across the country pay out almost £21m a year in community benefit payments.
This money usually goes to fund local projects but as the Covid-19 pandemic spreads across Scotland some of the cash is now being used as part of the response to the virus.
Foundation Scotland, the organisation that administers around 60 community benefit funds, has already held talks with community representatives on about 20 of those to see how the money can help.
In Lewis, community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust has announced it will use all of its cash for this year to set up a pandemic support fund for the local community.
Community Energy Scotland, which co-owns a 7.5 megawatt wind farm near Cockburnspath with Berwickshire Housing Association, is now working with a newly established volunteer action group to provide emergency grants to local families in hardship.
Its development manager, Jamie Adam, said: “We have been humbled by the reaction of local communities to the coronavirus emergency and are delighted to be able to help, if only in a small way.”
Airline further reduces flight schedules
Loganair has announced further reductions in its flight schedules over the coming weeks, consistent with the Government’s efforts to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
A skeleton schedule of essential air services will operate within Scotland, to and from the Isle of Man and on two routes supporting critical workers in the offshore industry in Aberdeen.
The services provided will be to facilitate travel only for those with an essential need, such as workers in designated critical professions and others covered by the latest Government advice.
Efforts are also in hand to protect essential carriage of pharmaceuticals, mail, newspapers and other consumer goods which are reliant on Loganair’s services in the Highlands and Islands as a matter of course.
Loganair expects to ground approximately half of its 44 aircraft in the coming days and has advised its staff of the probability of furlough under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Loganair’s chief executive Jonathan Hinkles said: “The challenges that we’re all facing in everyday life are evolving by the day, and we are having to work through a whole host of disparate issues to maintain services for those with a critical need to travel, or indeed the many island communities totally reliant on Loganair to deliver their daily essentials.
“I’m proud of the work that so many of our team are doing right now to keep vital air routes open, without which our communities would be in severe difficulty.
“The tremendous team spirit in evidence throughout Loganair is providing all of us with confidence to tackle the challenges that undoubtedly lay ahead.
“Throughout all of this, safety will remain our absolute priority – whether that of our staff or our customers, or indeed the daily focus to assure that each and every Loganair flight is conducted safely.”
Hotel resort closes its doors
Mar Hall Golf & Spa Resort in Renfrewshire has temporarily closed for the “wellbeing of all”.
A spokesperson said staff had “worked tirelessly” over the last few weeks to keep the resort open, however “there comes a time when you can do no more”.
In a statement, the company said: “The current situation is unprecedented.
“As purveyors of great Scottish hospitality it grieves us greatly to do so, but needs must.
“The wellbeing of all should be our only collective concern.
“When we open again, and open we shall, you can be sure we will rise greater than ever before.
“We look forward to those times and to welcoming you back to Mar Hall.”
Scots ‘are following’ stay-at-home guidance
Police Scotland’s chief constable has said the vast majority of people are obeying coronavirus guidance to stay at home.
Iain Livingstone hopes new powers to arrest people flouting the rules will be used “very, very infrequently, if at all”.
He said Police Scotland officers have seen “overwhelming levels of compliance” from the public since lockdown measures were introduced.
Emergency legislation has been passed to give police the power to arrest those breaching coronavirus guidance, which states people should only leave home for essential food, health and work reasons.
Mr Livingstone said most people were heeding the advice, despite a few cases of “extreme” behaviour, such as a woman accused of deliberately coughing at police officers.
Asked by Nick Robinson on BBC Radio Four whether people are defying the guidance aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19, Mr Livingstone said: “No they’re not.
“In the first couple of days since the announcement on Monday night, we have seen overwhelming levels of compliance.
“We have seen citizens of Scotland, indeed right across the UK, standing up, listening to that advice.”
Coronavirus field hospital lined up for Scotland
Detailed discussions have taken place about setting up a field hospital in Scotland to cope with the increasing number of coronavirus patients.
Dr Catherine Calderwood, Scotland’s chief medical officer, revealed sites are being considered for such a facility.
It comes as the NHS in London plans to use the ExCeL Centre to treat up to 4000 people.
Football chairman’s hotel rooms gesture
Peterhead Football Club 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 he’s opened up to those travelling to work at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) during the coronavirus pandemic.
CalMac brings in ‘essential lifeline’ timetable
Ferry operator CalMac will introduce an ‘essential lifeline’ timetable from Friday.
Initially for three weeks, it aims to ensure Scotland’s islands get all the goods and services they need.
CalMac’s number of weekly sailings will drop from 2419 to 948 – a decrease of almost 61%.
Medical chief defends Charles getting a virus test
Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer has defended the decision to test the Princes of Wales for coronavirus, saying there were “very good reasons” behind the move.
Dr Catherine Calderwood spoke after news that the heir to the throne had been tested for Covid-19 sparked an angry backlash from some.
While some medical workers who are self-isolating have been unable to get tested to see if they could come back to work, both Charles, 71, and his wife Camilla, 72, were tested on Monday.
The royal couple are currently staying at the Birkhall estate in Aberdeenshire, with Camilla separating herself from her husband after she tested negative.
Speaking about Charles on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Dr Calderwood said: “I have spoken to the team in Grampian who were looking after the individual.
“My understanding is there were very good reasons for that person and his wife to be tested, and obviously I wouldn’t be able to disclose anything else that I know because of patient confidentiality.”
Compston’s race back to the States
Scots star Martin Compston has revealed he raced back to the US shortly before travel was banned.
The Line of Duty actor lives in Las Vegas, where his wife and her family are from, but was filming in the UK before the lockdown.
“I was just in my flat on a Saturday night, learning my lines for the week ahead,” he said.
“The news came through that Trump had suspended all flights from the UK, so I think within 12 hours I was on a flight.
“So, I just made it back by the skin of my teeth. It was bit of a hairy journey over… but eventually they got us home.”
He told the STV show that Scotland would always be “home”, but added: “I’ve spent probably 14 of the last 16 months on the road and you realise how important it is to have a support network around you.
“It was important that my wife had a family around her – and the weather’s not bad either!”
NCP offers free parking
NCP is offering free parking to workers in city centres across the UK.
A full list of the 150 car parks taking part in the scheme can be found here.
‘Sunday service’ bus timetable for Glasgow
Bus company First Glasgow is bringing in a reduced timetable from Sunday.
The firm said would operate a “broadly Sunday timetable”, but with extra morning services for key workers.
Andrew Jarvis, managing director of First Glasgow, said: “I would like to personally thank everyone at First Glasgow who have been absolutely fantastic at keeping the wheels turning for the people of Glasgow.
“Regular customers can be assured we will endeavour to get more frequent services back up and running as soon as the government decides it is safe to do so.”
Travel firm donates £250,000 of compression socks to nurses
A travel firm is donating equipment worth £250,000 to help nurses dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.
Online company Trtl is handing over its stockpile of compression socks to help nurses fight fatigue on the wards.
A total of 5000 pairs have been given to acute nurses in hospitals across Scotland in the past two weeks and the firm plans to distribute 5000 more in London in the next week.
Trtl’s sales have fallen 95% in the past two weeks and chief executive officer Michael Corrigan said he wants to help those on the frontline by donating the surplus socks.
The Caledonian hotel closes its doors
The Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian has closed its doors for the first time since 1903.
The luxury hotel will remain closed until April 24.
In a statement posted on Facebook, the company said: “It is with heaviness of heart that we announce in response the UK Government’s guidelines, that we have temporarily suspended operation of our hotel until April 24th.
“This is certainly not a goodbye, our team will continue to plan for the rest of the year and are committed to fully restoring operation of our iconic hotel as soon as possible.”
Flights from 11 airports to be grounded
Flights from 11 airports across Scotland will be grounded this weekend amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On Thursday morning, Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (Hial) confirmed it would remain open for lifeline and essential services, however bosses were forced to make the “difficult, but necessary, decision” to close its airports to scheduled flights and routine aviation traffic with effect from Sunday.
Hial – which is owned by the Scottish Government – operates and manages Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Dundee, Inverness, Islay, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh, Tiree and Wick John O’ Groats airports.
The company said it was doing “all it can to limit the spread of infection, protect the health and wellbeing of its staff and have the necessary resilience in place to maintain its ability to service essential and emergency flights”.
Hial is now working with Transport Scotland and Loganair to agree a skeleton schedule that will ensure the airports continue to provide lifeline and essential services, including NHS passenger transfer, the Royal Mail and the oil and gas industry.
Government orders 10,000 ventilators from Dyson
The Government has ordered 10,000 ventilators to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic, billionaire entrepreneur Sir James Dyson has said.
In an email to staff, the inventor said his eponymous company designed the “CoVent” at the request of Boris Johnson, and promised to donate 5000 to the international relief effort.
Sir James said teams of engineers had been working solidly on the design since receiving the call from the Prime Minister ten days ago, and the UK Government had placed an initial order of 10,000 units.
The company is now waiting for the design to receive regulatory approval so manufacturing can commence.
Created in partnership with Cambridge-based science engineering firm TTP, the new ventilator had to be safe, effective, efficient in conserving oxygen and portable, Mr Dyson said.
It also had to be bed-mounted, easy to use and not require a fixed air supply.
The battery-powered machine has been designed for use in different settings, including field hospitals and when patients are being transported.
Sir James said the device draws on technology used in the company’s air purifier ranges, and is powered by a digital motor.
Rental prices ‘show housing market is deeply broken’
Signs of change in Scotland’s housing market and rental prices amid the Covid-19 outbreak show “how deeply broken” the system is, according to a tenants’ union.
Living Rent has reported holiday lets increasingly being put up as long-term rentals as tourism dries up during the pandemic – often at rates “significantly below” the market average.
And it has called for emergency measures to be introduced to protect tenants from rogue landlords who may seek to rent out properties without correct licensing.
‘I’ve never experienced anything like this‘
Edinburgh care home manager Eileen Gray explains what it’s like caring for people during the coronavirus pandemic.
She said: “I can safely say that I have never experienced anything like the Covid-19 crisis – both in terms of the challenges it presents and in the fantastic response it has produced.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an amazing rallying round; everyone here is totally committed to getting through this together and to make sure that our residents’ lives are disrupted in as small a way as possible.”
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.
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.