Three more people die with coronavirus in Scotland

It is the first time there have been three deaths reported in a day since June 30, with 176 new cases.

University of Glasgow

Another three people have died with coronavirus in Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the latest Covid-19 deaths as she announced another 176 new cases in the country overnight.

It is the first day there have been three Covid deaths in Scotland since June 30, and takes the death toll among confirmed coronavirus patients to 2499.

But including suspected Covid cases and people whose coronavirus tests were more than 28 days ago, the number of total fatalities is 4233.

ADVERT

Tuesday’s 176 new infections represent 2.3% of newly-tested Scots, the third day in a row it has been above 2%.

Of the new cases, 91 are in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board region, where indoor household gatherings have been banned in five council areas.

Residents of Glasgow City, East Renfrewshire, West and East Dunbartonshire and Renfrewshire cannot host or visit people from other households in their homes.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily briefing, the First Minister said the latest statistics are a reminder of the virus’ impact.

ADVERT

She added: “Most of all, of course, that figure speaks of three individual tragedies.

“I want to send my condolences to those who are grieving as a result of the deaths reported today and also to everyone who has lost a loved one during this pandemic.”

A further 32 of Tuesday’s infections are in Lanarkshire, 16 are in Lothian and eight are in Ayrshire and Arran.

There are 267 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, an increase of 11 in 24 hours.

Of these patients, six were in intensive care, up one.

Nicola Sturgeon said the “really unwelcome” decision to impose more lockdown restrictions in the Greater Glasgow area – Renfrewshire and East Dunbartonshire were added to the list at midnight – is a “proportionate” response to rising coronavirus cases.

She told the briefing: “Overall, I believe that they represent a proportionate and hopefully effective – but also an absolutely necessary – response to a worrying increase in Covid-19 across these areas.

ADVERT

“The restrictions will be reviewed again next week and they will stay in place for as long as they are needed, but they will not stay in place for any longer than that.”

The First Minister added that the rise in coronavirus cases in Inverclyde and Lanarkshire “does not warrant additional restrictions” but that officials will keep that under review.

Lanarkshire ‘considered for level four restrictions’

Leaked documents say tier four restrictions for North and South Lanarkshire 'cannot be ruled out'.

Pixabay
Covid-19: Lanarkshire facing toughest restrictions.

North and South Lanarkshire are the only two areas being considered for level four of the Scottish Government’s new Covid-19 restrictions, according to a leaked report.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) documents also suggest that most of the country, including Glasgow and Edinburgh, is set for “tier three” of the new measures, meaning a continuation of current restrictions.

However, while the letter to council leaders states that the situation in Lanarkshire “may be stabilising”, it says the use of level four restrictions ”cannot be ruled out”.

It also says that rising numbers in Dundee is “causing concern”.

ADVERT

The Scottish Government will lay out which areas will be subject to the new coronavirus tier system in a parliamentary debate on Tuesday.

COSLA has written to council leaders, giving them a strong indication of what tier of restrictions their authorities will be subject to.

Level three of the tier system would mean alcohol sales both indoors and outdoors will not be permitted, although some restaurants may be able to open under strict conditions.

Level four is closest of the levels to a full lockdown, similar to the one introduced at the end of March, with non-essential shops being forced to close.

ADVERT

Socialising would not be allowed in people’s homes, but six people from two households could still meet outdoors and there would be no limit on outdoor exercise.

Non-essential travel would be banned and there could be limits on the distance people can travel, as well as guidance to stay at home.

Schools will remain open and some outdoor meeting will be allowed.

The confidential letter reads: “I hope it will be helpful if I set out the approach being taken to these decisions.

“The starting point is the measures currently in place. These are broadly equivalent to Level 3 in the central belt, and Level 2 elsewhere.

“Changes from these levels, whether up or down, need to be justified by the data, supported by public health advice and consistent with the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 Framework for Decision-Making.

“Because of the severity of the impact of the measures in the highest level, Level 4, Ministers will only consider using it if necessary.

ADVERT

“The data currently indicate that level of concern for two areas: Level 4 is being considered for North and South Lanarkshire.

“There are, however, some signs in the latest data that the situation in those areas may be stabilising.

“Ministers will not reach a decision for these two areas until the latest possible point to ensure that they can take account of the fullest possible picture of the effect of measures already in place; but at this stage the use of Level 4 cannot be ruled out.

“If it was necessary, it would be used to avoid still greater harm, including many deaths.

“No changes are currently being considered in relation to other central belt areas. If that remains the case and is confirmed later this week, these areas would remain in Level 3 for the time being.

“There are some signs in the data of progress in the east of the central belt area, for example in Edinburgh and East Lothian, but some further consolidation of that progress is likely to be required before it would be safe, on public health grounds, to move them to Level 2.

“The data for Dundee City also gives cause for concern, with rising numbers of cases.

“Again, a final decision will be made on the basis of data becoming available in the next few days.

“Meantime, consideration is being given to moving Dundee City to Level 3 in the new framework, broadly equivalent to the measures currently in place in the central belt.

“Further consideration is also being given to the interaction between Dundee and neighbouring areas within the Tayside Health Board area.

“At this crucial stage in suppressing the virus, with higher case numbers, the winter approaching, and the introduction of a new strategic framework, the public health advice to Ministers is that it would not be safe to move any area straight to the lowest level, Level 0.”

By Local Democracy Reporter Joseph Anderson.


More than 1050 people in hospital with coronavirus

The First Minister confirmed the latest figures at the daily briefing.

Richard Johnson via Getty Images

The number of patients in hospital with coronavirus has risen to 1052, as Scotland recorded more than 1000 new cases.

It’s a rise of 36, with 90 people receiving treatment in intensive care. Meanwhile, another person confirmed to have the virus has died.

The latest figures, which saw the country record 1122 positive test results, were revealed by the First Minister at the daily briefing.

The death toll under the measure of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days has risen to 2701.

ADVERT

Of the new cases recorded, 428 were in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 274 in Lanarkshire, 105 in Lothian and 97 in Ayrshire and Arran.

Celtic financial results show impact of coronavirus on club

The Glasgow club posted a narrow pre-tax profit but saw revenue drop sharply.

Rob Casey via SNS Group
Celtic say their financial results are 'satisfactory'.

Celtic chairman Ian Bankier says the club must proceed and invest with a degree of caution after their latest financial results revealed the impact coronavirus has has on the club.  

For the year ending June 30, pre-tax profits fell to £100,000 from £11.2m the previous year.

Revenue dropped by 15.8% to £70.2m from £83.4m while operating expenses including wages fell 7.3% to £80.5m.

Celtic still have around £18m in the bank and revealed that they had increased their borrowing ability to £13m, which remains unused.

ADVERT

Bankier said the pandemic and subsequent shutdown of football had unsurprisingly had “an adverse impact on operations and the balance sheet”.

He said the plunge in profits was “largely attributable to the value destructive impact” of the virus but said that: “Nevertheless, these results are satisfactory in the circumstances at hand.”

The club chairman said that Celtic’s strong financial position before the pandemic had offered “a degree of protection” but also warned that given the inherent uncertainty of the current environment, we must proceed and invest with a degree of caution. 

Though Celtic took in £24.2m over the financial year from player sales, the club spent £20.7m.

ADVERT

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell added to Bankier’s warnings.

He wrote: “The year ahead is unpredictable and Celtic are not immune to the extent of the challenges that we could face at many levels. Whilst we will continue to invest and not deviate from our strategy, we are also cognisant that we may have to endure the Covid-19 restrictions for longer than we would all hope and therefore must balance our desire to progress the club against long-term sustainability.

“The transfer market is likely to be unpredictable as clubs around Europe struggle to adapt and many of the key stakeholders in European football are expected to be inward facing and adopting defensive strategies.

“It is important that Celtic’s interests and that of Scotland’s are represented within European football and through my role at the European Club Association, I will continue to promote these interests.”

More on:

Father delivers baby daughter in nature reserve car park

Andrew Still delivered baby Eliza at Lochwinnoch Nature Reserve, which has been listed as her place of birth.

Paul Rodger via SWNS
Special delivery: Father delivered daughter at nature reserve.

A father who delivered his newborn baby in a nature reserve car park has listed it as his daughter’s official birthplace.

Andrew Still, 32, had to pull over on the way to the hospital and help wife Sara, 31, deliver baby Eliza as she began to emerge.

He stopped at Lochwinnoch Nature Reserve in Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire, where the baby was born and had to wrap her in a picnic blanket until medics arrived.

Baby Eliza, the couple’s second child, arrived safely weighing 5lbs 14oz and her proud parents even had the nature reserve put on her birth certificate.

ADVERT

The pair said their hypnobirthing lessons helped during the dramatic delivery.

Stay-at-home father Andrew said: “It was a bit overwhelming. it’s something nobody expects to do.

“It’s still not really sunk in that it actually happened.

“With Covid going on there’s a lot of people we haven’t seen and are still telling people about it.

ADVERT

“I think the hypnobirthing classes put us in a more settled state.”

The couple, from Largs, North Ayrshire, were on their way to Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, Renfrewshire, when Sara told Andrew to stop.

Sara said Andrew was tempted to “put the foot down” to make it to the hospital but stopped at the popular bird watching reserve and called an ambulance instead.

Civil servant Sara, also mum to Ezra, aged three, said the experience wasn’t traumatic and was glad it worked out the way it did.

Sara said: “My husband got our wee boy ready for nursery and we had breakfast but within half an hour I started getting contractions.

“I phoned Andrew and said ‘we’ve got to go to the hospital’.

“By the time we set off I told Andrew we weren’t going to make it and he’ll need to stop.

ADVERT

“The temptation was there to put the foot down but he pulled over and phoned the ambulance.

“Andrew said he felt quite panicked but I thought he was good.

“In hindsight he’s so glad he did it.

“We only had picnic blankets and wrapped [Eliza] up until the ambulance crew arrived.

“It was quite peaceful. At that time in the morning nobody was around.

“It wasn’t traumatic, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“A lot of our friends have said their partners would have fainted if that was them.

“In the hypnobirthing he had a big part to play.

“I expected to be in hospital with everything around me but the hypnobirthing helped a lot with the birthing techniques and there’s a relaxation CD I listen to in the car.

An RSPB Lochwinnoch spokesman said: “We would like to share our congratulations once again with the family.

“It was great to meet all four when they returned to the reserve and we are delighted that mother and baby are doing well.”


Covid vaccine trials showing ‘strong immune response’

A vaccine against coronavirus could be rolled out early next year.

Paul Biris via Getty Images
A coronavirus vaccine appears to be edging closer.

Information from an earlier stage of the Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine candidate trial suggests “similar” immune responses among younger and older adults, scientists said.

Data on the safety and immune responses among those taking part in the phase two vaccine trial has been submitted for peer review in a medical journal.

But the findings have been discussed before publication, prompting more excitement about the vaccine – considered one of the forerunners in the Covid-19 vaccine race.

The vaccine is currently in a phase three clinical trial, which means the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine is being tested by thousands of participants across a number of different countries.

ADVERT

Experts have predicted that the data from the trial could be presented to regulators within weeks.

It comes as the UK health secretary said that the “bulk” of the rollout of a coronavirus vaccine could occur before next summer.

Matt Hancock said that his “central expectation” is that the majority of the rollout of a vaccine could be under way in the first half of 2021.

In a statement, Oxford University said: “Professor (Andrew) Pollard discussed the early findings of the Phase II safety and immunogenicity trial of the ChAdOx1 nCov-2019 Oxford coronavirus vaccine at a research conference.

ADVERT

“These early results covering trial volunteers from the UK in the 56-69 and 70+ age groups have been submitted to a peer-review journal, and we hope to see their publication in the coming weeks.

“Our ongoing trials will provide further data, but this marks a key milestone and reassures us that the vaccine is safe for use and induces strong immune responses in both parts of the immune system in all adult groups.”

An AstraZeneca spokesperson added: “It is encouraging to see immunogenicity responses were similar between older and younger adults and that reactogenicity was lower in older adults, where the Covid-19 disease severity is higher.

“The results further build the body of evidence for the safety and immunogenicity of AZD1222.”

Earlier on Monday, Hancock told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that the vaccine programme was “progressing well”.

Asked how soon NHS staff could be injected with a vaccine, he said: “Well, we’re not there yet.

“The vaccine programme is progressing well. We’re in very close contact with the leading candidates.

ADVERT

“On my central expectation, I would expect the bulk of the rollout to be in the first half of next year.”

Asked if there could be some this year, he said: “Well, I don’t rule that out, but that is not my central expectation.”

Clinical trials for Covid-19 vaccines are ongoing.

Some have speculated that two vaccine candidates will report data to regulators this year.

When asked about reports that hospitals are preparing to vaccinate staff, Hancock added: “We want to be ready in case everything goes perfectly.”

“But it’s not my central expectation that we’ll be doing that this year.

“The true answer to your question is, we don’t know.

“We don’t know when the first vaccine will be available but my central expectation is in the first half of next year.

“Nevertheless, we’re doing the preparatory work now for how that will be rolled out, the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations has set out the order of priority; and we’re doing the logistical work, led by the NHS working with the armed services who are playing an important role in the logistics of it to ensure that we have that rollout programme ready.

“But, you know, preparing for a rollout and actually having the stuff to roll out are two different things.

“It’s obviously something that we want to happen as soon as safely can be done.

“And as fast as safely can be done, but we are not there yet.”


Boris Johnson: Serial incompetent or victim of events?

Charge sheet against the Prime Minister seems to be growing week on week.

STV News
Boris Johnson: Government appears to be in a permanent state of crisis.

Question. Is Boris Johnson a serial incompetent or is he the victim of events that engulf him to create a permanent state of crisis?

It would appear that the Prime Minister fights on so many fronts that Downing Street could do with their very own fire brigade to extinguish the flames ignited by yet another run of bad headlines.

‘Crisis, what crisis?’ is a famous tabloid headline from 1979 when the winter of discontent finished the Labour government. The Prime Minster James Callaghan didn’t actually utter the words that became his government’s epitaph.

Forty-one years on and those same words could well be uttered by Boris Johnson. When he is hounded by yet another issue which has eluded his grasp he wears a slightly bewildered expression which asks what all the fuss is about.

ADVERT

His indifference to detail is, of course, legendary and in his time as a correspondent in Brussels for the Daily Telegraph, he freely admitted to massaging the actualités or ‘making it up’ as one might put it less charitably.

The flaws of personality and character which worry some of his supporters and terrify his opponents in the parliamentary Conservative Party seem to be catching up with him.

His poll ratings are poor. Labour suddenly look credible again and Sir Keir Starmer is viewed as a steadier hand and mind in times of national emergency.

The charge sheet against the Prime Minister grows by the week. His communication on Covid has been wobbly and on occasions his knowledge of his own rules wobblier still.

ADVERT

The summer of 2020 was the summer of the U-turn, a phrase associated with another Conservative prime minister, Ted Heath. But Heath’s U-turns were as nothing compared to the current Prime Minister, who U-turns so often that all he does is spin like a top.

We have already had one U-turn on free school meals and another might be in the offing. Minsters hide behind answers about funding formulas to rebut the charge that they will not fund meals for kids outwith term time, something that the devolved administrations have committed to doing.

The cost of unambiguously funding this is so small that you have to wonder, why the stubbornness? Looking tough is one thing but displaying your political machismo when the issue is children possibly going hungry beggars belief. 

Yet again it has taken footballer Marcus Rashford to play the role of quiet assassin and lead a national chorus which is shaming the government by the hour.

Even the most politically disengaged will feel that there are some things that are not worth a political row and the prospect of hungry kids is one of them.

Today, 800 former judges and lawyers have written to The Guardian deploring what they see as the demonising of their profession after the home secretary referred to “lefty lawyers” and “do-gooders” during a speech on immigration appeals.

Now, the angst of judges is unlikely to play at the electoral box office but it is nonetheless an issue of note. I can’t recall when so many senior people in the legal profession have cast aside a hard-wired disdain for entering the political arena to so freely castigate an elected government.

ADVERT

But then again, it is probably an issue which is not born of an accident of language on the part of the home secretary. Perhaps the assault was deliberate. After all there is something unique in the current government in seeing certain constitutional principles as a conspiracy to frustrate their will.

Last week we had yet another refinement of the help for business during the pandemic. First, it was more money back in March. Then came furlough. Then an extension of furlough. Then the £1000 bounty for keeping furloughed workers in January. Then the Job Support Scheme issue one, and then last week issue two.

There is nothing wrong in the government fashioning intervention as circumstances dictate. Quite the reverse, they should actively change course when the abyss threatens mass unemployment.

The problem, though, for Boris Johnson is that his government appear to change policy because they are forced to do so by a combination of a narky opposition and a vocal business community genuinely worried where they will be come next summer.

The trick of government is to change policy without it looking like a change, to take hold of a narrative and drive it in a way that it doesn’t look like yet another climbdown.

But that would take the political dexterity of a Harold Wilson or the presentational nous of a Tony Blair or even a David Cameron, who at least could participate credibly in the art of not looking like the crisis is one of your own creation.

The row on school meals is the latest example of an issue that will have Tory MPs in the tea rooms asking, is he the right man for the job? As last December’s landslide victory fades in the memory the goodwill of his colleagues will run out for Johnson unless that is, he gets a grip on the job he was elected to do.


Bomb squad called after grenade found inside house

Police sealed off an area of Kirkcaldy on Monday morning while EOD officers investigated the device.

Liam Sneddon via Facebook
Bomb disposal van outside house in Kirkcaldy.

Bomb disposal experts were dispatched to a Fife neighbourhood after a grenade was discovered inside a house.

A Royal Logistic Corps van was pictured outside a property in Kirkcaldy on Monday morning.

Police officers cordoned off an area in the town’s Templehall Avenue, while explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) teams attended to the grenade.

The device was found to be inactive.

ADVERT

A spokesperson for Police Scotland said: “Police were made aware of the discovery of what appeared to be a grenade at a property at in Templehall Avenue in Kirkcaldy at 11.05am on Monday, October 26.

The immediate area was cordoned off and EOD officers attended and the device was found to be inert.”

Boots to launch 12-minute coronavirus swab tests

Pharmacy chain said the LumiraDx devices will be rolled out in selected stores over the next few weeks.

Boots
Coronavirus: Boots to roll out rapid results testing.

Boots is set to unveil a new coronavirus testing service, which it says can return results from swab tests in just 12 minutes.

The pharmacy chain said the LumiraDx devices – capable of quickly processing swab tests to give customers same-day results – will be rolled out in selected stores over the next few weeks.

Boots has also launched a 48-hour testing service which is currently available in ten stores, including in Glasgow and Edinburgh, with plans to extend the programme to more than 50 outlets across the nation.

The service is available as a private pre-flight test for customers who require one before travelling abroad, or as a solution for those who would prefer peace of mind before seeing friends and family.

ADVERT

The in-store service will cost £120 per test. The cost of the LumiraDx test is not yet known.

Seb James, managing director of Boots UK and ROI, said the programme is being implemented as a way to help ease the pressure on the nation’s health services.

“Boots has supported the Government’s Covid-19 testing programme from the very start and offering this new in-store service is the next step in our efforts to fight against the pandemic,” he said.

“We hope that by offering this testing option in local community stores, Boots can help ease pressure on the NHS and the Government by providing additional access to testing and crucial reassurances for people across the UK.

ADVERT

“As part of the UK High Street for over 170 years, Boots is proud to serve on the front line alongside the NHS and we will continue to do our part to support the nation’s healthcare needs during this challenging time and beyond.”

Customers who are not displaying any Covid-19 symptoms can book an in-store test through the company’s website.


Scottish cities top UK hotspots for slump in job vacancies

Aberdeen and Edinburgh have seen large drops in vacancies year-on-year amid the rise in people working from home.

Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
Princes Street in Edinburgh (left) and Union Street in Aberdeen during the pandemic.

Deserted high streets and city centres are hampering Britain’s jobs recovery, with Aberdeen and Edinburgh seeing the steepest declines in vacancies.

A report by the Centre for Cities think tank revealed the Granite City recorded a 75% fall in vacancies year-on-year, while the capital saw a 57% drop.

The research by the think tank – in collaboration with global job site Indeed – found that seven months after the nationwide lockdown was imposed, job vacancies have failed to return to pre-Covid levels in all 63 towns and cities they analysed. 

The report said local lockdowns and the rise in people working from home has dried up demand for local services in big cities, including London, Manchester and Edinburgh.

ADVERT

Andrew Carter, Centre for Cities’ chief executive, said: “While unemployment continues to rise, the number of jobs available to people who find themselves out of work is far below its level last year in every single large city and town in the UK.

“This could have potentially catastrophic long-term consequences for people and the economy.

“The (UK) Government has told us to expect a tough winter and, while local lockdowns are necessary to protect lives, it is vital that ministers continue to listen and reassess the level of support given to help people and places to cope with the months ahead.”

While no area of the country or sector has escaped the labour market crisis, those where high street footfall returned to normal more quickly have seen a faster recovery in job vacancies, the report said.

ADVERT

Pawel Adrjan, EMEA head of research at the global job site Indeed, said: “The timid recovery in job vacancies is a portent of the distress towns and cities could face if restrictions continue to spring up in parts of the country already reeling from imposed lockdowns and reduced footfall.

“With the remote work trend showing no sign of abating – and entire regions being placed under stricter control – service jobs in large towns and cities could become scarcer still and pull the UK into a jobs spiral. That could mean a very long winter ahead for the millions of people currently unemployed.”

Cities and towns with the largest drops in job vacancies:

  • Aberdeen -75%
  • Edinburgh -57%
  • Belfast -55%
  • Crawley -55%
  • Aldershot -54%
  • London -52%

The report’s publication comes just days before the UK Government’s Jobs Retention Scheme draws to a close.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week announced an emergency multi-billion pound bailout aimed at supporting workers and firms through the second coronavirus wave.

The Job Support Scheme, which replaces the current furlough system from November 1, will be made more generous in an effort to persuade firms to keep staff in work.

An HM Treasury spokesperson said: “We’ve put in place a comprehensive plan to protect, support and create jobs in every region of the UK, and recently increased the generosity of our winter support schemes, including our expanded Job Support Scheme, which will protect jobs in businesses that are open or closed.

“We are also providing additional funding for local authorities and devolved administrations to support local businesses.”

You're up to date

You've read today's top stories. Where would you like to go next?