New Year babies welcomed at maternity units across Scotland

A baby boy born at 12.03am at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh was the earliest arrival announced so far.

Happy New Year: Mum Emma Allan and dad Cameron Cunningham with their baby boy. SWNS
Happy New Year: Mum Emma Allan and dad Cameron Cunningham with their baby boy.

The first babies of the new decade have been welcomed at maternity wards around the country.

A baby boy born at 12.03am was the earliest arrival announced so far, entering the world at the Simpson Centre for Reproductive Health at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

The little boy, weighing 8lbs 5oz, is the first child for mother Emma Allan and father Cameron Cunningham.

The parents, from Port Seton in East Lothian, said they were “delighted” with the new arrival whose name has not yet been revealed.

Babies born at Ayrshire Maternity Unit before 8am: Robyn (top left), Orla (bottom left), Mary (bottom right) and Ollie (main).

Ten minutes later a baby girl was born at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital weighing 7lbs 11.5oz.

Parents Kayleigh Clark and Darren Wood from Inverurie welcomed Emily Louise Wood into the world at 12.13am.

Just over an hour later at 1.18am, a baby girl was born at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert to parents Sarah and Lizzie Middleton, from Stenhousemuir.

The child, named Lexie, arrived weighing 6lb 9oz and is Sarah’s first baby.

The first baby born on New Year’s Day at St John’s Hospital in Livingston was a boy called Russell who arrived at 2.09am weighing 8lbs 4oz.

Parents Laura and Kevin Galbraith, from Bathgate, West Lothian, also said they were delighted with their New Year gift.

In Glasgow the first baby to enter the world on January 1, 2020 was a girl born at 4.36am weighing 6lb 3oz at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital maternity unit.

Parents Marie and Peter Rankin, from Clarkston, East Renfrewshire, have named her Catherine.

Raigmore Hospital in Inverness welcomed two new arrivals early on New Year’s Day.

The first was a boy born at 4.11am weighing 7lb 5oz.

Parents Alison and Allan Stewart, from Inverness, have still to announce a name for their son.

A short time later another boy was born at 4.30am weighing 7lb 11oz.

Sophie Jansen van Rensburg and partner Warren, from Nairn, have named the little boy Carter.

The first baby to arrive at Ayshire Maternity Unit was a boy born at 5.23am weighing 7lb 11oz.

Parents Christina and Ryan Maguire, from Troon, have named him Theodore.

Nurse becomes first Scots NHS worker to die from coronavirus

Janice Graham, 58, was described as 'beautiful inside and out' by her heartbroken friends.

Nurse: Janice Graham passed away from Covid-19 on Monday.

By Jenness Mitchell and Sharon Frew

A district nurse from Inverclyde has become the first NHS worker in Scotland to die from coronavirus.

Janice Graham, 58, was described as “beautiful inside and out” by her heartbroken friends.

Ms Graham, a health care support worker and district nurse, died at Inverclyde Royal Hospital due to Covid-19 on Monday.

Her son, Craig, said he would “miss everything about her”.

He told STV News: “My mum was there for me no matter what.

“I will miss everything about her. I am so proud of her and there will not be a day that goes by that I will not think about her.”

Tribute: Ms Graham’s family thanked the staff at Inverclyde Royal Hospital.

Ms Graham’s family thanked the staff at Inverclyde Royal who looked after her.

They said “they tried their very best to keep her with us”.

Louise Long, chief officer of Inverclyde Health and Social Care Partnership, a joint operation between the NHS and council, said: “We are saddened to confirm a member of staff has passed away due to Covid-19. 

“Our thoughts are with Janice’s loved ones at this difficult time.

“Janice was a valued team member in our District Nursing and Evening Services team and brought kindness and compassion to patients and colleagues. 

“Her bright and engaging personality, and razor sharp wit will be sorely missed.

“A memorial book will be open at Port Glasgow Health Centre to staff who wish to pay tribute to Janice.

“We are incredibly thankful to our staff for their tireless efforts during this crisis. We are here to support them as much as possible during this challenging time.”

Paying tribute online, friend AJ Weir said he was “genuinely devastated”.

He added: “She was one of the most, if not the most kind, caring and compassionate HCA I have had the privilege to work with and learn from.

“She will never be forgotten and Inverclyde Royal Hospital has lost one of their finest. May she rest in peace and never be forgotten.”

The world has just got a little bit darker xx Words cant even begin to describe how truly wonderful a person you were…

Posted by Talulah Bell on Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Ashley McGartland said the NHS was at a “huge loss after the passing of such an amazing colleague”, while Talulah Bell added: “The world has just got a little bit darker.

“The most dedicated, caring, selfless, hilarious and strongest person I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. 

“You were beautiful inside and out and will be missed by so many.

“A true loss to the NHS.”

Death toll from coronavirus in Scotland rises to 366

There are 4565 confirmed cases of the virus in Scotland, while new weekly figures provide more detail.

The death toll from coronavirus in Scotland has risen by 70 to 366, with more than 4500 confirmed cases, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Total confirmed cases are up by 336 to 4565, while there are 210 patients with Covid-19 in intensive care and 1711 in hospital overall.

It comes as the National Records of Scotland (NRS) published new weekly figures providing more detail on coronavirus-linked deaths.

Speaking at a Scottish Government briefing on Wednesday, the First Minister acknowledged the complexity of having two counting systems.

As of Sunday, April 5, a total of 354 deaths were registered in Scotland where Covid-19 was mentioned in the death certificate, according to NRS.

The figures, calculated separately to the daily statistics on cases and deaths, include hospital and community deaths and cover the period from March 16 to April 5.

Sturgeon said the reason for the difference in the NRS figures, which are lower than the new official death toll of 366, is the time lag, with the weekly statistics only running up to last Sunday.

She said the new report captures all deaths registered within a seven-day period – those who have died with a confirmed diagnosis and also presumed cases.

The First Minister added: “It is important to stress these figures record deaths according to the date of registration of death.

“There can be a gap of up to eight days between death recorded and registered.

“These new weekly figures include more detailed information than previously.

“These breakdowns show that those who are older are more likely to die of Covid-19 but they show that nobody is immune so everybody should follow the instructions.”

She continued: “This information is also essential to help us understand who is most severely impacted by the virus and where there are any hotspots.

“It also helps us plan for beds in hospitals and when the peak is likely to pass.

“I understand that the figures can make us feel powerless and something we can’t see or feel is taking lives but by following the rules and by self-isolating all of us can help to reduce the number of deaths.”

Confirmed cases as of April 8 by health board area / daily change

Greater Glasgow and Clyde: 1166 (+72)

Lothian: 700 (+79)

Tayside: 586 (+70)

Lanarkshire: 575 (+28)

Ayrshire and Arran: 312 (+16)

Forth Valley: 259 (+16)

Fife: 255 (+16)

Grampian: 223 (+13)

Borders: 160 (+11)

Dumfries and Galloway: 155 (+3)

Highland: 122 (+10)

Shetland: 43 (+1)

Western Isles: 4 (no change)

Orkney: 4 (nc)

Confirmed or suspected cases in hospital / intensive care by health board area

Greater Glasgow and Clyde: 555 (62)

Lothian: 275 (41)

Lanarkshire: 249 (28)

Tayside: 134 (7)

Fife: 127 (13)

Forth Valley: 107 (9)

Ayrshire and Arran: 91 (16)

Grampian: 62 (11)

Borders: 56 (9)

Dumfries and Galloway: 44 (6)

Highland: 61 (6)

Shetland: <5

Western Isles: <5

Orkney: <5

According to the NRS, the first mention of Covid-19 in a death registration was the week beginning March 16.

Last week, from March 30 to April 5, a total of 282 deaths relating to Covid-19 were registered, a steep rise on previous weeks.

There were 62 in the week between March 23 and March 29, and ten in the week before, March 16-22.

The total number of deaths overall in Scotland from March 30 to April 5 is 1741.

The average number of deaths registered in the same week over the last five years was 1098.

NRS statistics capture all deaths registered where the death certificate states that Covid-19 was relevant to the cause of death.

This includes those where a positive test has taken place and also those where it is merely suspected that coronavirus was a relevant factor.

Pete Whitehouse, NRS director of statistical services, said: “We are living in unprecedented times and all of these deaths are tragic.

“These statistics, when placed alongside the other important evidence being made available by the Scottish Government and Health Protection Scotland (HPS), will be valuable to the understanding of the progress and impact of the Covid-19 virus across Scotland.

“We have produced these statistics based on deaths involving Covid-19, so this includes any deaths where COVID-19 is mentioned on the death certificate, whether it is the underlying cause of death or a contributory cause and includes registered deaths resulting from suspected or probable Covid-19.”

He added: “Using this methodology means that our statistics will differ from the number of deaths released daily by HPS which report on deaths with an associated positive test for Covid-19 and it is expected that NRS statistics will show a higher number of deaths.”

What do new weekly Covid-19 death figures show us?

The National Records of Scotland has published new weekly figures showing all deaths linked to coronavirus.

Pixabay
Coronavirus: New figures aim to give clearer picture.

The National Records of Scotland has published new weekly figures showing all deaths linked to coronavirus.

They include all instances where Covid-19 was cited on the death certificate, whether it was the cause or a contributing factor.

They also contain all deaths where the person was suspected to have the virus, even if they never took a test to confirm it.

Prior to these new statistics, the daily deaths the government were reporting were among hospital patients.

Now, the figures pertain to deaths in all settings – hospitals but also in the community, in care homes or anywhere else.

The Scottish Government says the figures will show more deaths than previously, but that they will help them track the virus’ spread, identify hotspots and allocate resources more effectively.

So what do the NRS statistics show us?

A spike in the last week

The NRS total of 354 deaths since the outbreak began only takes us up to Sunday, April 5.

But we can see from this graph a big spike in death certificates referencing Covid-19 in that last week we have data for.

The drop-off over the weekend is chiefly due to a lag in reporting, which is expected to be made up this week.

A total of 282 coronavirus-linked deaths were registered in the week from March 30 to April 5, up from 72 – an explosive 390% increase.

Although one word of caution is there can be a gap of up to eight days between a death being recorded and registered.

The NRS also notes in the week from March 22 to March 29, registration services were curtailed amid the lockdown to put in place arrangements for remote registration.

This means the figure of 62 deaths for that week is likely artifically low, and the figure the following week artifically high as registrars cleared the backlog.

Compare the deaths recorded by NRS to the daily figures produced by Health Protection Scotland (HPS), which focuses on hospital deaths.

The first thing to note is that the figures the government and media have, up until this point, been reporting on a daily basis are much lower.

They only relate to people who have tested positive for Covid-19 who have died, rather than those suspected to have had the virus.

We see a 61% increase in total deaths when we add all of these together.

But whichever line of the graph you look at, they show that the spike in the last week is real, even if the line for hospital deaths over the last fortnight is less jagged.

Graph comparing daily covid-19 deaths with weekly National records of Scotland figures.

The graph above combines NRS’ weekly figures as of last Sunday with the most up-to-date daily death figures, which Nicola Sturgeon announced were 366 as of Wednesday.

Given these only relate to confirmed Covid-19 cases, we can expect another major climb next week when NRS updates its combined total.

Counting all registered deaths in Scotland, including those linked to Covid-19 but also including anything else, there were 1741 in the week from March 30 to April 5.

As the graph makes clear, that’s a huge spike on what you would expect given the average of 1098 over past years.

At her daily press conference on Wednesday, Nicola Sturgeon explained that this was again due to the disruption to death registration services the week before.

Most deaths by far in Glasgow

National Records of Scotland deaths by health board as of April 5 2020.

Given its status as the most populous area of the country, this doesn’t come as a surprise.

But nonetheless: 122 coronavirus-linked deaths have occurred in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area – more than a third of the national total.

In addition, 3.2% of deaths in Greater Glasgow and Clyde are associated with Covid-19. The only area of Scotland with a higher proportion of deaths is the Borders, where it is 3.8%.

Over 75s and men most affected

Again, no surprise: people over 75 are most susceptible to dying with Covid-19, accounting for nearly two-thirds of deaths associated with coronavirus (63%).

It’s almost identical to the percentage of overall deaths in Scotland among that age group.

But the age distribution of Covid-19 deaths is slightly younger than overall deaths, with the most found in the 75-84 age group (37.6%) compared to over 85s (25.7%).

There are also around 5% more 65 to 74-year-olds dying with Covid-19 proportionally compared to overall deaths.

In addition, 55.6% of all coronavirus-linked deaths were male (197) compared to 44.4% who were female (157).

Pensioner, 98, battles back to survive coronavirus

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described Daphne Shah’s story as 'inspiring'.

By Jenness Mitchell & Lynne Rankin

A 98-year-old woman has beaten the odds to battle back and survive coronavirus.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described Daphne Shah’s story as “inspiring”, stating: “It is also a reminder that even in dark times, there is always light and hope.”

Ms Shah, who is set to turn 99 this summer, was taken to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee after falling ill last Thursday.

The pensioner, from St Madoes in Perth and Kinross, tested positive for Covid-19 and spent the next few days receiving treatment.

She was eventually discharged with medication on Monday and is now being cared for at home by her son, Wesley.

Ms Shah praised the treatment she received by the NHS staff.

She said: “Very good treatment – I didn’t want to leave.”

Fellow parishioners at Hillbank Evangelical Church in Dundee prayed for Ms Shah’s recovery.

The pensioner is now “feeling better”, adding: “Everyone is good to me.”

Mr Shah – who noticed his mum’s cough, high temperature and breathing difficulties around two weeks ago – initially called for a doctor.

When the antibiotics she was prescribed weren’t working, he realised the infection was viral rather than bacterial.

Mr Shah praised the level of care his mum received at Ninewells Hospital.

He told STV News: “When the ambulance came, I have to say it was one of the most dramatic experiences of my entire life.

“I never thought I’d have her back.

“I was delighted with the NHS. I mean, they are brilliant. They are heroes at the end of the day and they are our frontline warriors.

“God bless the NHS. Without them, my mum wouldn’t be back.”

During the Scottish Government’s daily press conference, the First Minister paid tribute to Ms Shah and said it was important not to “lose sight of good news” during “tough times”.

She said: “I want today to pass on my best wishes to Daphne Shah. Daphne is 98-years-old and she has been receiving treatment for Covid-19 at Ninewells hospital in Dundee.

“Note that I said ‘had been’ receiving treatment. Daphne has now recovered from the virus and she is back at home.

“Her recovery in an inspiring and very welcome good news story. But it is also a reminder that even in dark times, there is always light and hope, and I am sure all of us wish Daphne very well.”

NHS Tayside medical director, professor Peter Stonebridge, also said he was “delighted” that Ms Shah was back home and wished her well in her continued recovery.

He added: “We can all do our bit to help stop the spread of coronavirus. That is why following the messages of staying at home, washing your hands frequently and staying two metres apart are so important.”

Johnson ‘responding to treatment’ in intensive care

The Prime Minister is being treated at St Thomas's Hospital in London for coronavirus.

Coronavirus: PM in good spirits, spokesman says.

The Prime Minister is “responding to treatment” while in intensive care with coronavirus.

Boris Johnson was taken to St Thomas’s Hospital in London on Sunday evening after his Covid-19 condition worsened.

According to an official spokesman, he is receiving “standard oxygen treatment” and is “breathing without any other assistance”.

He said: “The Prime Minister remains clinically stable and is responding to treatment.

“He continues to be cared for in the intensive care unit at St Thomas’s Hospital. He’s in good spirits.”

When asked about specifics of the PM’s condition and treatment, the spokesman said: “The information in the update we have provided was given to us by St Thomas’ Hospital and it contains all the information that the PM’s medical team consider to be clinically relevant.”

Downing Street confirmed Johnson is not working while in intensive care and thanked the public for messages of support.

Asked if anyone has been in contact with the PM, the spokesman said: “The PM is not working, he’s in intensive care, he has the ability to contact those that he needs to, he’s following the advice of his doctors at all times.

“We are hugely grateful for the messages of support that the Prime Minister has received.

“I think the public response to coronavirus throughout has been fantastic and that has been best exemplified by the applause they’ve been giving to NHS staff every week.”

At the UK Government’s daily briefing on Wednesday night, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said he was “sitting up in bed” and was engaging positively with NHS staff.


Rangers: Season is only complete when all 38 games are played

The Ibrox club wants prize money released to help struggling clubs.

Rangers have made a counter-proposal to the SPFL.

Rangers have reiterated their opposition to any early finish to the Premiership after the SPFL confirmed a vote will be taken on finalising the league as it stands.

The Ibrox club, who had nine league games to play when all football was suspended, trail leaders Celtic by 13 points.

The club has previously stated their preference for playing out all remaining fixtures when possible and say that stance has not changed despite the SPFL’s proposal.

The league body spoke with all 42 member clubs on Wednesday and proposed a vote that would see the Championship and Leagues 1 and 2 brought to a premature end, with titles, promotion and relegation all decided on an average points per game basis.

Top flight clubs will also vote but no action will be taken as yet to draw a line under the Premiership season.

In a statement on the club website, a Rangers spokesperson said: “Considering the current circumstances and increased speculation surrounding the ongoing impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on Scottish football, we felt it is incumbent that we provide clarity in relation to our position.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Rangers firmly believe that the 2019/20 season is only complete when all 38 games have been played to a finish.”

In addition to settling titles, calling the league and making all positions final would relegate Hearts, Partick Thistle and Stranraer and Rangers say that can’t be allowed to happen when the teams can’t play out their remaining fixtures.

The spokesperson said: “It is abhorrent that certain clubs could be unfairly relegated if the current SPFL proposals were implemented. We must future proof the Scottish game.”

Rangers, who believe that any reconstruction plans would have to be given time for detailed scrutiny, are now proposing that the SPFL release all prize money to help struggling clubs as a matter of urgency.

The statement continued: “Nevertheless, we are conscious of the ongoing financial hardships faced by many clubs within the Scottish game. No business is immune from the impact of Coronavirus and we were proud of our players and senior staff’s voluntary decision to defer their wages to ensure job security for their colleagues at Ibrox.

“Furthermore, many clubs urgently require financial support to maintain cash flow and allow them to survive this current impasse so they can return to normal business when the current government lockdown is relaxed. It is important to recognise that these clubs across all the leagues are now in a financially precarious situation.

“As a club, Rangers will immediately propose a member’s resolution which would release prize money to be distributed to all clubs throughout Scotland urgently. We believe that this is the priority in the present circumstances. It is vital to show respect for all clubs across the Scottish game, regardless of league position or financial standing. We must work together with a unity of purpose for the betterment of the Scottish game.”


McAvoy thanks public as Masks for NHS Heroes reaches £1.5m

A campaign backed by actor James McAvoy to provide medical workers with masks has raised over £1.5m

A crowdfunding campaign backed by actor James McAvoy to provide medical workers with protective equipment has already raised over £1.5m.

McAvoy helped promote the Masks for NHS Heroes campaign as it got underway and donated £275,000 to the cause.

Set up by a group of doctors to provide personal protective equipment for those working on the frontline in the fight against coronavirus, the campaign set out to raise £200,000.

In their initial appeal, the doctors wrote: “Unfortunately current hospital supplies are not sufficient and while we are reassured the government is doing everything it can, healthcare workers on the frontline are risking themselves daily without adequate protection to care for sick patients.”

The doctors changed their target to £500,000 however after an outpouring of support in an effort to help supply personal protective equipment nationwide.

In an Instagram update, McAvoy paid tribute to the public for their backing as he revealed the figure had surged to £1.47m.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the total has again increased to £1.56m, with 15 days still left to hit the latest target of £1.75m.

More on:

New rules ‘could prevent prisoners from keeping clean’

Scottish Labour and the Liberal Democrats say prisoners must be treated with dignity during the coronavirus outbreak.

Jail: New guidance has been issued.

New guidance issued to governors could prevent Scottish prisoners from keeping themselves clean during the coronavirus outbreak, opposition parties have said.

Changes to the rules around prisoners and young offenders mean they are entitled to showers at least “twice a week” as opposed to the current rules allowing showers at least once every other day.

Books and newspapers could also be restricted during the Covid-19 outbreak, as well as other activities, recreation and counselling.

MSPs were notified of the new rules on Tuesday.

A letter sent to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee said: “Currently prisoners are provided with an opportunity to bathe or shower at a minimum every other day, this will be changed to twice weekly, this is consistent with minimum requirements of the European Prison Rules.

“SPS (Scottish Prison Service) only intends using this flexibility where necessary.

“Not all prisoners will be impacted by this change, as recently built prisons and accommodation blocks have in-cell showers.”

Scottish Labour said prisoners must be treated with dignity during the pandemic.

The party’s justice spokesman James Kelly said: “The Justice Secretary outlines the aim of preventing the spread of coronavirus in prisons, but is handing governors the powers to prevent prisoners from showering more than twice a week.

“The importance of personal hygiene has been highlighted since the outset of this crisis – yet our government is actively preventing prisoners from keeping themselves clean.

“The World Health Organisation has made clear that prisons must ensure that the human rights of those in their custody are protected when implementing measures to deal with coronavirus, and that they should not be cut off from the outside world and retain access to information and healthcare.

“These new powers raise concerns that this may not be the case on the Scottish prison estate.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur MSP said: “It’s hard to see how preventing prisoners from showering will help slow the spread of this virus.

“Prisons face particular difficulties in terms of containing and responding to the virus, while healthcare provision that was already under stress becomes even more so in the context of over-crowding and self-isolation.

“In the midst of this crisis, prisoners still deserve to be treated with compassion and dignity.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The wellbeing, safety and human rights of all those who live in our prisons is a priority for the Scottish Government and the Scottish Prison Service (SPS).

“A number of steps have been taken by SPS to ensure social distancing and public health advice is adhered to and measures have been introduced to mitigate the impact of social isolation for those in it care.

“The Prisons and Young Offenders Institutions (Scotland) Amendment Rules 2020 have been made to support SPS’s response to the exceptional pressures facing prisons during the current coronavirus outbreak.

“The amendments will enable SPS staff to focus on key functions and to help protect the health and safety of staff and prisoners. They will only be used in exceptional circumstances.”

A SPS spokeswoman added: “The safety and wellbeing of those living and working in our prisons is a priority for the Scottish Prison Service and we are working closely with the Scottish Government, Health Protection Scotland and a range of other partners to manage the unprecedented challenges we are all now facing.

“Covid-19 is impacting across all public services, including our prisons and we have already had to make difficult decisions to protect the health of those living and working in our prisons.

“These amendments to the prison rules are designed to allow the SPS to further respond to the exceptional pressures which may come our way.”

Coronavirus updates as they happened – Wednesday, April 8.

Today's latest coronavirus news and updates from across Scotland as it happens.

Pixabay
Coronavirus: Wednesday's latest updates.

7.30pm: First Scots NHS worker dies

A district nurse from Inverclyde has become the first NHS worker in Scotland to die from coronavirus.

Janice Graham, coronavirus.
Nurse: Janice Graham passed away on Monday.

Janice Graham, 58, was described as a “beautiful woman with the biggest heart” by her heartbroken friends.

Ms Graham, a health care support worker and district nurse, died at Inverclyde Royal Hospital due to Covid-19 on Monday.

6.30pm: FM to take questions from party leaders in virtual session

Nicola Sturgeon will take questions from party leaders in a virtual question and answer session on Thursday.

It will go ahead at 12.30pm and is expected to last for around 40 minutes.

The First Minister said it would replace the usual coronavirus briefing – which is held daily.

It is expected that the session will mirror the first part of the First Minister’s Questions, where Ms Sturgeon takes questions from her opposite numbers.

5.45pm: New rules ‘could prevent prisoners from keeping clean’

New guidance issued to governors could prevent Scottish prisoners from keeping themselves clean during the coronavirus outbreak, opposition parties have said.

Changes to the rules around prisoners and young offenders mean they are entitled to showers at least “twice a week” as opposed to the current rules allowing showers at least once every other day.

Books and newspapers could also be restricted during the Covid-19 outbreak, as well as other activities, recreation and counselling.

MSPs were notified of the new rules on Tuesday.

Scottish Labour said prisoners must be treated with dignity during the pandemic.

The party’s justice spokesman James Kelly said: “The World Health Organisation has made clear that prisons must ensure that the human rights of those in their custody are protected when implementing measures to deal with coronavirus, and that they should not be cut off from the outside world and retain access to information and healthcare.

“These new powers raise concerns that this may not be the case on the Scottish prison estate.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur MSP added: “It’s hard to see how preventing prisoners from showering will help slow the spread of this virus.

“Prisons face particular difficulties in terms of containing and responding to the virus, while healthcare provision that was already under stress becomes even more so in the context of over-crowding and self-isolation.

“In the midst of this crisis, prisoners still deserve to be treated with compassion and dignity.”

5.20pm: Government unveils £750m support package for charities

Charities struggling during the coronavirus pandemic will be given a £750m bailout to keep them afloat, the Chancellor has announced.

Rishi Sunak said charities, including those supporting domestic abuse victims and hospices, will receive cash grants to ensure they can meet increased demand as a result of the virus.

Some £360m direct from Government departments will go to charities providing key services, while smaller charities will benefit from £370m, including through a grant to the National Lottery Community Fund.

The Government has also pledged to match the public’s donations to the National Emergencies Trust, guaranteeing a minimum of £20m.

It will also match fund whatever the public decides to donate to the BBC’s Big Night In charity appeal on April 23.

5.15pm: Prime Minister remains in intensive care

Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care.

At the UK Government’s daily briefing on Wednesday, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said he was “sitting up in bed” and was engaging positively with NHS staff at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

Johnson was taken into intensive care on Monday, a day after going into hospital for treatment to coronavirus.

An official spokesman earlier said he was receiving “standard oxygen treatment” and was “breathing without any other assistance”.

5.10pm: More than 7000 deaths across the UK

A total of 7097 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Tuesday, the Department of Health said, up by 938 from 6159 the day before.

The Department of Health said, as of 9am on Wednesday, 232,708 people have been tested of which 60,733 tested positive.

Overall, 282,074 tests have concluded, with 14,682 tests on Tuesday.

The overall test figure excludes data from Northern Ireland and test data from Charing Cross and Southampton has not been included because of a processing delay, the department added.

5.04pm: FM warns ending lockdown early would be ‘monumental mistake’

Nicola Sturgeon has warned it would be a “monumental mistake” to ease the coronavirus lockdown measures too early and said parents should not expect schools to reopen any time soon.

The First Minister said “prematurely” lifting current restrictions on social distancing and school closures risked undermining efforts to contain the disease and told the public: “We are in this for some time yet.”

Speaking at the daily press briefing in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said: “Obviously we will seek to get back to normal as quickly as possible, but it would be a really monumental mistake for us to lift these measures prematurely because all the hard work people are doing right now would be jeopardised if this virus just got out of control again.

“We will continue to be open with people as our understanding and our decision-making around these things continues to develop, but I will repeat the message today: we are in this for some time yet to come, people have to be prepared to stick with this in order for it to have the impact we want it to have.”

She said she hoped not to have to introduce stricter measures, such as closing public parks, and added that the more people who comply with the guidance, “the quicker we will get to point where we can be starting to lift this”.

On the issue of school closures, Ms Sturgeon acknowledged that many parents and children were eager to return but she said there were no plans to reopen schools after Easter.

4.50pm: 3D printers used to help create protective masks

Staff at Culture Perth and Kinross Libraries have used 3D printers to produce components that will be used to create protective masks for NHS workers.

The printers – bought as part of Leader-funded project Digital Maker_Spaces – were used to make headframes and stiffeners.

Printers: The completed masks will be given to NHS staff.

Working with Men’s Sheds and other partners across the region, these items will have a laminated shield and elastic headband added to them, creating protective masks.

The final product will then be given to the NHS Tayside Testing Centre.

Coronavirus: The 3D printers were used to create headframes and stiffeners.

Jackie Brierton, chair of Rural Perth & Kinross Leader Local Action Group, said: “This is a great repurposing of resources to help combat the coronavirus crisis. 

“We’re delighted that the Leader programme, which is made up of EU and Scottish Government monies, can support Culture Perth and Kinross’ innovative project.  

“The Leader team was able to help the project align the remainder of its funding contribution to respond to the call for help.”

4.32pm: Scottish Parliament explores remote working for MSPs

The Scottish Parliament is exploring remote working in response to the coronavirus outbreak, which could involve party leaders questioning the First Minister virtually on Thursday.

In a letter to MSPs on Wednesday, Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh said the parliamentary bureau – a group of MSPs which decides the business of the parliament – is currently hoping to hold a session similar to First Minister’s Questions.

Testing was due to be undertaken by officials on Wednesday to assess how the process would work.

The Presiding Officer wrote: “Like other legislatures, colleagues here have been very busy in recent weeks examining and testing a range of options for virtual working and I am pleased to say that the progress they are making is very encouraging indeed.

“In the first instance, the Parliamentary Bureau is exploring holding a leaders’ virtual question time where party leaders can question the First Minister.”

If the first session on Thursday worked, the Presiding Officer said there would be scope to allow questions to come from all MSPs in the following weeks.

3.30pm: Emergency funds offered to students during coronavirus outbreak

Richard Lochhead says extra funding for students is being put in place


A £5m package of emergency financial support is being put in place to help students facing hardship as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Extra cash will be available to any university and college students now struggling as a result of COVID-19, including those attending private institutions.

University and college students will be able to apply for any emergency discretionary payments directly to their own institutions.

Further and Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said: “We are ensuring students studying in Scotland should have access to emergency support should they be facing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 or the social distancing and isolation measures that have been introduced.

“All bursaries, grants and loans are continuing to be paid as planned but the current unprecedented situation has resulted in increased hardship.

“That is why we are making extra funding immediately available for students most in need, to help alleviate concerns around accommodation costs, mental health issues, general living costs and wellbeing.

“Institutions will be provided with specific guidance on the discretionary funding related to COVID-19, to explain all relevant details while students can access the latest information on COVID-19 on the Student Information Scotland website.”

3.15pm: Lib Dems say PPE is an “absolute basic”

Following an open letter send to the government expressing serious concerns about supplies of PPE equipment to frontline workers and the quality of that being received which was signed by over 100 medics in Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has issued a statement.

“We are now weeks into this crisis. It’s outrageous that our health professionals are being sent out on the frontline without the protection they need. These supplies are an absolute basic,” he said.

“Medics should not feel the need to turn to the media for their concerns to be listened to. This daily fight for adequate protective equipment is distressing and distracting at a time when it should be all hands on deck. 

“In both primary and community care we need to see high quality supplies getting to the people who need it right now.”

1.15pm: Prime Minister ‘clinically stable’ and responding to treatment.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains ‘clinically stable’ and is responding to treatment.

Downing street say he is in ‘good spirits’ in St Thomas’s hospital in London where he is in intensive care.

Johnson’s official spokesman said: “The Prime Minister remains clinically stable and is responding to treatment.

“He continues to be cared for in the intensive care unit at St Thomas’s Hospital. He’s in good spirits.”


The PM continues to receive “standard oxygen treatment” and is “breathing without any other assistance”, he said.

Downing Street confirmed the PM is not working while in intensive care and thanked the public for messages of support.

Asked if anyone has been in contact, the spokesman said: “The PM is not working, he’s in intensive care, he has the ability to contact those that he needs to, he’s following the advice of his doctors at all times.

“We are hugely grateful for the messages of support that the Prime Minister has received.

“I think the public response to coronavirus throughout has been fantastic and that has been best exemplified by the applause they’ve been giving to NHS staff every week.”

12.58pm: Death toll from coronavirus rises by 70 to 366

The death toll from coronavirus in Scotland has risen by 70 overnight to 366, with more than 4500 confirmed cases, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Total confirmed cases are up by 336 to 4565, while there are 210 patients with Covid-19 in intensive care and 1711 in hospital overall.

It comes as the National Records of Scotland (NRS) published new weekly figures providing more detail on coronavirus-linked deaths.

Speaking at a Scottish Government press briefing on Wednesday, the First Minister confirmed the numbers.

11.51am: Scottish Government responds to ‘grave concerns’ of medics over PPE

The Scottish Government has said that the protection of frontline healthcare workers is the ‘highest priority’ after medics raised ‘grave concerns’ over the issue.

Over 100 medics signed an open letter questioning if protective equipment provided to them was adequate for the job hand.

In response a government spokesperson said: “We attach the highest priority to the protection of our frontline social care and healthcare workers, and the detailed clinical guidance issued last week was jointly prepared by senior expert clinicians across the UK, was jointly agreed by Scotland’s Chief Medical and Nursing officers and contains specific detail about what PPE should be worn, by which staff and when.

“As the Health Secretary announced last week, we have introduced four direct supply lines for PPE, a streamlined ordering system for all staff who need PPE and a new dedicated email address for any health or social care worker who has any concerns about PPE supply to make contact with us immediately. Where we are alerted to any local issue about PPE availability, we act immediately to address these.

“We are clear that appropriate eyewear protection must be provided in accordance with UK four nation guidance. We have adequate supplies of PPE in place and our new supply line measures are ensuring that the right equipment reaches the right locations with the highest possible urgency.

“The Health Secretary had discussions with Andrew Buist and Lewis Morrison of the BMA, last week, on key issues including PPE and will continue to engage with them both regularly during this time.”

11.16am: Glasgow Warriors star returns to NHS as a physio to help fight against covid-19.

Rugby star Petrus de Plessis has announced he will return to the NHS as a physio.

The Glasgow Warriors player-coach, who has been at the club since 2018, made the announcement on Twitter.

The 38-year-old South African has registered as a respiratory physiotherapist in a bid to help the fight against covid-19.

He said: “I’ve registered to go back to the NHS as a respiratory physiotherapist. I strongly believe it’s important to have all hands on deck to overcome this virus!”

10.16am: Pub’s tribute to health workers

Grace’s Bar in the Merchant City area of Glasgow has paid a striking tribute to NHS workers.

The venue, known as a Celtic pub, is closed during lockdown and wanted to brighten its boarded-up windows.

Bar owner Paul Kelly said: “We felt the need to board up the windows as a precaution for extra safety and security and it suddenly hit us that everything we have worked for as a team and a community was in ruins.  

“We could have advertised our venue but that wasn’t right either when there are people out there fighting for their lives and others on the frontline battling this virus.

How the boarded-up windows of Grace’s bar look.

“We are a sports bar, mainly Celtic fans but we have many fans from other teams who visit regularly too and we’ll all really miss the place during this closure.

“However the message is still the same, we want to help remind everyone to stay at home.  It is Easter weekend which is meant to be a holiday, a time of joy and it would be easy to forget our commitments to stay safe, so we wrote this message as a reminder that it is more important than ever to stay home and help in this fight. We are all in this together.”

9.50am: Half of those diagnosed with covid-19 in Forth Valley ‘fully recovered and back home’

Around half of the 243 people who have had a confirmed coronavirus diagnosis in Forth Valley are already fully recovered and back home.

Dr Graham Foster, Forth Valley’s director of public health, said it was important to get the message out that people had been discharged when it was safe to do so.

As the Scottish and UK death tolls rise, and the Prime Minister himself in intensive care, more and more people are facing up to just how deadly covid-19 can be.

And some have been nervous about those who have had the illness returning to their communities.

But Dr Foster said: “We want to be reassuring that these people are not a big infection risk and they don’t need to be treated any differently.

“They will obviously do the self-isolation that everyone else is doing and obey the same rules as everyone else but people don’t need to worry about them.

“People need to get used to the idea that the normal path of covid is that you become unwell for a period of time, usually seven days, and then you are safe after that to be discharged.”

9.27am: Emergency £500 grant available to those impacted by coronavirus

People in financial crisis caused by the ongoing covid-19 pandemic can now receive immediate help in the form of a cash grant.

The initiative comes thanks to the launch of an emergency coronavirus grant fund by national poverty charity, Turn2us.

A one-off crisis grant of £500 will be approved and paid within just three working days of an application, as long as they meet the grant fund’s eligibility criteria.

The grant will not need to be paid back and is intended to be a financial lifeline in a time of crisis.

One million people came to Turn2us for help in the last three weeks alone, representing a 520% increase, and 1800% increase amongst the self-employed.

8.50am: ‘Video visiting’ launched for Western Isles hospitals

A new ‘video visiting’ service is to be launched in the Western Isles on Wednesday, which will enable hospital inpatients and their friends and family to keep in touch via a video link.

In a statement, NHS Western Isles said that since the closure of local hospitals to visitors as a measure to control the spread of Coronavirus, staff had been working on a new system enabling video connections for hospital patients.

The service will initially be available for calls seven days a week between 2pm and 4pm to patients in Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway, with a roll-out of the scheme to all Western Isles hospital sites over the next two weeks currently being considered. Calls will be ten minutes in duration. 

8.46am: Entrepreneur gives £100,000 to fund free meals

Scots entrepreneur Marie Macklin has donated £100,000 to help people in need during the coronavirus outbreak.

She has launched a community fund called Lift Up Your Hearts, which aims to deliver 20,000 free meals.

The project has teamed up with charity Centrestage and company Braehead Foods to prepare and deliver free meals to homes in Kilmarnock and across East Ayrshire.

Marie, who founded the HALO urban regeneration company, said: “It is a very proud day for not just me but everyone at the HALO to see so many people come together to support the Lift Up Your Hearts campaign which we hope will help local communities that need it the most during these unprecedented times.

“I’d like to thank the team at Braehead Foods and everyone at Centrestage for their support and dedication to making the first deliveries of these 20,000 meals happen so quickly.

“I am confident that together we will help as many people as possible get through these difficult times.”

8.32am: Scottish football clubs set for crunch coronavirus talks

Scottish clubs will hold further talks with league officials on Wednesday in a bid to secure more clarity on the fate of the current season.

A number of clubs have already called on the Scottish Professional Football League to declare the standings as they are.

But Hearts have threatened legal action if they are relegated with eight games left and Rangers vowed to challenge any attempt to declare Celtic champions.

8.20am: Medics raise ‘grave concerns’ over protection equipment in open letter to Scottish Government

More than 100 medical professionals have signed an open letter to the Scottish Government raising “grave concerns” over personal protective equipment.

The open letter states that the virus has caused “upheaval” and lives have been “turned upside down” with people suffering from “fear and anxiety”.

It goes on to say that many working for the health service have concerns about the adequacy of the protective equipment needed in the “frontline battle” against an “invisible enemy”.

The medics wrote: “Health care workers are falling ill and dying due to covid-19. We believe it is vital that essential workers are given adequate PPE at the very least, to protect themselves and in-turn their patients from this new virus.”

7.50am: UK coronavirus strategy questioned

Questions have been asked over the UK’s covid-19 strategy in the absence of the Prime Minister who remains in intensive care with the virus.

Concerns were raised over when the lockdown measures will be reviewed – and leading officials have admitted the UK has “a lot to learn” from Germany’s expansive testing scheme.

Earlier, foreign secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising in Boris Johnson’s absence, suggested the review of the lockdown announced by the PM when he set out the restrictions would not go ahead on Monday as scheduled.

7.35am: Prime Minister spends second night in intensive care

Boris Johnson spent second night in intensive care.

Boris Johnson has spent a second night in intensive care being treated for Covid-19.

Downing Street said the PM’s condition remained “stable” on Tuesday night as they confirmed he would be staying in St Thomas’s hospital for “close monitoring”.

The 55-year-old is said to be in “good spirits”.

7.05am: Report warns that GDP could shrink by 25% if lockdown continues

The Scottish economy could contract by up to a quarter if the current lockdown restrictions continue for a three-month period, according to the Fraser of Allander Institute.

The report from the economic research institute at Strathclyde University found there is likely to be “a long road to recovery” from the “unprecedented” impact on GDP from the coronavirus pandemic.

The estimates are predicted on a three month period of restrictions and are not an “exact prediction for growth” in Q2 of 2020, but “simply an illustration of the scale of the shock” to the economy.

The report adds that “it might be many months or even years before we actually know the full extent of the effect of the shut down on the Scottish economy”.

7am: Jobs market sees greatest drop in permanent starts since global crash

Permanent job appointments across Scotland in March fell at the fastest rate since the global financial crash, according to a study.

The latest Royal Bank of Scotland figures show the country saw the steepest decline last month in these job starts since April 2009, with a drop of 10.7 points from the “no change” base rate of 50.

Permanent job placements in April 2009 had a rating of 33.6, some 16.4 points below the 50 standard.

Temporary billings also fell 19.3 points – the steepest rate on record – as the Scottish jobs market was hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

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