‘We can’t be complacent about Covid impact on ethnic minorities’

Scots from ethnic minority backgrounds say more research is needed to determine how coronavirus is affecting them.

Zibya Bashir lost her mother to coronavirus at the start of lockdown.
Zibya Bashir lost her mother to coronavirus at the start of lockdown.

Zibya Bashir lost her mother, Rafaqat Khalid, to coronavirus at the start of lockdown.

Ms Bashir said it feels like her mum, who was originally from Pakistan, had been “snatched away from her” following her sudden death.

It’s not known whether her mother was more likely to be affected by coronavirus because of her ethnicity – however studies have shown it’s possible.

Data in England and Wales suggests BAME people are disproportionately dying with coronavirus.

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Some fear a lack of similar data in Scotland will lead to a lack of action on racial inequalities and there are now calls for more research.

Ms Bashir told STV News: “She was amazingly strong. She had seven kids, a husband to look after and 13 grandchildren. She was always there for all of us, nothing was ever too much.

“She had a liver transplant about seven years ago, and thankfully it was successful. But even after that she did everything for herself.

‘The Scottish Government needs to take it more seriously but each and every one of us has to talk, I don’t think we can afford to be complacent because the reality is people have died as a result of it and people still are.’

Zibya Atif

“She was just a very very strong woman, very strong.

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“About seven or ten days before she passed away she was diagnosed with a chest infection.

“The doctors weren’t concerned about it being Covid, they just put it down as a minor infection and she was on antibiotics.

“She was eating fine and things and for a few days it was as if she was completely better but it was almost overnight she developed breathlessness and it just got worse and worse. An ambulance was called for her after they had spoken to the doctor on the phone.

“She was taken into hospital on a Wednesday night. The Thursday was a very difficult day for the family because we weren’t allowed to be with her.

“They did an X-ray and the hospital called to say only one person from the family could come in to be with her because they said the X-ray was typical of that of a Covid patient. And then on the Friday morning she was gone- just like that. It feels like she was snatched away from us.

Rafaqat Khalid died in hospital after developing breathlessness.

“We didn’t get to do the normal things when someone passes away. There was no proper funeral. Islamic funerals are different from conventional non-Islamic funerals. It’s made it all the more hard because we haven’t been able to grieve together as a family.

“You wake up every morning and it’s the first thing in your head. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t cry thinking about how much I miss her.

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“The Scottish Government needs to take it more seriously but each and every one of us has to talk, I don’t think we can afford to be complacent because the reality is people have died as a result of it and people still are.”

In England and Wales, the mortality rate for Covid-19 is higher for black and minority ethnic people than for white people.

However, it cannot conclusively be said that the situation is the same in Scotland.

A report from National Records of Scotland released in July showed coronavirus was a more common cause of death for South Asian people, compared to white people.

But there was insufficient data to determine how other ethnic minority groups in Scotland were affected.

The Scottish Government has acknowledged that there is a lack of data here, and has created a task force to investigate the issue.

Professor Shaun Treweek: Scotland needs to record ethnicity in studies.

The team, called the Expert Reference Group on Covid-19 and Ethnicity, has recommended recording ethnicity on NHS databases is made compulsory.

A study from Aberdeen University has highlighted the importance of recording this kind of data in shaping policy.

Professor Shaun Treweek said: “Within Covid studies, it’s often the case that not only is there no special attempt to make it easier for black, Asian and minority ethnic groups to take part but there’s no record of the ethnicity of any participants.

“We clearly need to have high proportions of individuals from across the spectrum of ethnic communities – often we don’t.

“Ok, there is a problem. Once having recognised that, we need to start working with our local communities, discovering why there are particular problems for particular ethnic groups, and seeing what we can do to make it easier, more likely and more possible for those individuals to get involved in our research.”

Campaigners say it’s not just the health of BAME communities that is suffering detrimental effects from the pandemic.

Usman Ali, chair of the STUC Black workers committee, said: “We have been engaging with the Scottish Government on multiple areas of policy, predominantly to improve data collection recording and reporting so that we know who exactly is being impacted and how.

Usman Ali, chair of the STUC Black workers committee.

“We’ve also been making sure that underrepresented groups within black and ethnic minority communities such as those seeking refuge and asylum are being well looked after and cared for.

“We’re making sure that those working in the health and social care sector are being well looked after and have risk assessments at work.

“This pandemic has demonstrated the inequalities that black and minority ethnic workers and communities were facing long before the pandemic and therefore when plans have kicked in it can appear the response that the Government may have has been slow.

‘This pandemic has demonstrated the inequalities that black and minority ethnic workers and communities were facing long before the pandemic.’

Usman Ali, chair of the STUC Black workers committee

“But when we have challenged the Scottish Government, and we have challenged them multiple times quite publicly, the Scottish Government have responded.

“Coronavirus is predominantly a health pandemic but it’s also a socio-economic crisis, and sadly BAME communities are facing the brunt on all those fronts.”

Work is being done in Scotland to combat the barriers people from ethnic minorities face.

This includes translating Government and NHS guidance for people who’s first language isn’t English.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Expert Reference Group on Covid-19 and Ethnicity was formed in June, in response to UK-wide and international reports that Covid-19 was disproportionately impacting on some minority ethnic groups.

“The group has already played a vital role in informing the Scottish Government response to Covid-19 and has now submitted its initial advice and recommendation, some of which have already been reflected in our  programme for government.

“In recognition of the group’s concern over a lack of high quality population-based data we will make ethnicity a mandatory field for health databases, develop a link to the census, and embed the process of ethnicity data collection in the culture of the NHS in Scotland.

“We will also look to increase the numbers of minority ethnic staff in senior executive team roles in health and social care, while ensuring staff at all levels have a voice and influence to help drive change.

“We will also look closely at undertaking a review of our past and current initiatives to tackle systemic racism.

“The group’s recommendations require careful consideration, and a full Scottish Government response will be given in due course.”


Holyrood pays tribute to ‘extraordinary’ Duke of Edinburgh

Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, passed away on Friday morning at Windsor Castle.

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Duke of Edinburgh: Prince Philip passed away on Friday.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon led tributes to the late Duke of Edinburgh at Holyrood.

The Scottish Parliament was recalled on Monday for only the sixth time in its history so as MSPs could show their respect to Prince Philip in a motion of condolence.

The 99-year-old, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, passed away on Friday morning at Windsor Castle.

The Duke and the Queen were married for more than 70 years and Philip dedicated decades of his life to royal duty, serving the nation at the monarch’s side.

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Royal: Holyrood paid tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh.
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Following a one-minute silence in remembrance, Sturgeon said: “The tributes paid to the Duke of Edinburgh over these last three days show the affection in which he was held here in Scotland, across the United Kingdom and indeed around the world.

“On behalf of the people of Scotland I express my deepest sympathy to Her Majesty The Queen, who is grieving the loss of her strength and stay, her husband of almost 74 years, and also to the Duke’s children and to the wider Royal Family.”

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Holyrood: A minute’s silence was held for the Duke of Edinburgh.

The First Minister highlighted his life-saving efforts during the Second World War, and like so many of his generation the Duke had “endured difficulties and faced dangers that generations since can barely comprehend”.

Sturgeon described the relationship between The Queen and the Duke as a “true partnership”.

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She said: “He faced the additional challenge of being the husband of a powerful woman at a time when that was even more of an exception than it is today.

“That reversal of the more traditional dynamic was highly unusual in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, and even now isn’t as common as it might be.

“Yet, the Duke of Edinburgh was devoted to supporting the Queen – they were a true partnership.”

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Braemar Gathering: The Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.

The FM said she enjoyed speaking to the Duke about the books they were reading when she would stay at Balmoral.

She added: “He was a thoughtful man, deeply interesting and fiercely intelligent.

“He was also a serious book worm, which I am too, so talking about the books we were reading was often for me a real highlight of our conversations.”

Sturgeon highlighted his interest in industry and science and said he was “far-sighted” in his early support for conservation.

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She added: “Indeed, as far back as 1969 in a speech here in Edinburgh he warned of the risks of ‘virtually indestructible’ plastics.

“Of course, in 1956 he founded the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme which now every year provides opportunity, hope and inspiration to more than one million young people in more than 100 countries across the world.”

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Just married: Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip on their wedding day.

The First Minister said “it is right that our parliament pays tribute” to the Duke.

She added: “In doing so, we mourn his passing and we extend our deepest sympathy to Her Majesty The Queen and her family.

“We reflect on his distinguished war-time record, his love and support for The Queen and his decades of public service to Scotland, the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.

“Above all, we celebrate and we honour an extraordinary life.”

The Scottish Conservatives’ Ruth Davidson said she couldn’t imagine what “it is like to be married to someone for 73 years”.

She added: “And I can’t imagine what it is to have to get up and face every future day without them – what that absence feels like.

“And I think the recognition of the enormity of such a loss is what has led so many over the past few days to look past the titles and the 41 gun salutes and have such a sense of feeling for Her Majesty on such a human level.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said he’d “never had the privilege” of meeting Prince Philip, so didn’t have a personal anecdote to share.

However he retold the story of a man called Jon Watts, who was jailed at the age of 17.

Sarwar said: “Jon recalled ‘there was lots of alcohol and no aspirations for people like me’, is what he said.

“But while in prison he came across the Duke of Edinburgh’s award, which he said gave him a new sense of direction.

“He camped out for his first award not on a Scottish mountainside, but in a tent on the artificial grass of a prison football pitch.

“Jon went on to get the bronze, silver and gold award while serving a six-year sentence.

“The skill he learned during the programme was cooking, and upon leaving prison he set up his very own catering business, now helping other young people to learn new skills and find jobs. ‘It saved my life’, Jon said last week.

“That’s just one life that the Prince helped save; there will be countless others from different walks of life.”

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Edinburgh: Members of the 105th Regiment Royal Artillery fire a 41-round gun salute.

Patrick Harvie, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, also paid tribute to the Duke despite the party wishing for an elected head of state.

He said: “Today is a moment to extend our thoughts to Prince Philip’s family and to all those who are grieving for their loved ones in a spirit of respect for the equal value of every human life.”

Scottish Lib Dems leader Willie Rennie recalled a meeting in which Prince Philip asked him about a “little blue man” badge he used to wear.

He said: “The Duke of Edinburgh spotted it at a reception. He bounced up, demanding to know what it was. ‘To show support for the prostate cancer campaign’, I said.

“He looked at me closely. He says, ‘have you got it or are you against it?’ Then he bounced off again.

“The engagement was only 30 seconds long, but it has stayed with me and to be retold numerous times over the years.

“It seems that he left lasting impressions with so many others too. Some less repeatable than others, but so many were fun and memorable.”

Parts of Scotland experience ‘coldest April night’ on record

Sunshine, snow and hail combined for a twist on an April shower this weekend.

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April cools: Areas across the country recorded the coldest April night in around 30 years.

Parts of Scotland have recorded the coldest April night in around 30 years with temperatures dropping to almost -10C.

People across the country were left baffled when sunshine, snow and hail combined for a twist on an April shower this weekend.

On Saturday night the mercury fell to -6C in Aberdeenshire and as low as -8C in the north and west Highlands.

Temperatures dropped even lower on Sunday night, with Monday morning being an April record-breaker for some areas,

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Tulloch Bridge in the Highlands was the coldest spot with a low of -9.4C recorded, which is almost a whole degree lower than the record for April. Records here go back almost 30 years.

Even further south the temperatures hit the extreme end of cold for April with a low of -7.4C in Tyndrum, -4.5C in Islay, -4.3C in Edinburgh and -4C at Bishopton in Renfrewshire. The lows in Tyndrum and Islay look like new records.

While Scotland has had local records, the all-time record has been safe, with -15.4C recorded back in 1917 at Eskdalemuir in Dumfries and Galloway.

STV Meteorologist Sean Batty said: “Cold and snowy weather in April and May can come as a big shock, but this part of spring can be very volatile with some huge day-to-day swings in temperature.

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“So far this year it seems we’ve lacked the extreme warmer spells where we can get the BBQ and sun loungers out, and it’s been more typical to be bundled up against an icy wind.

‘I’ve got bad news for those of you hankering after the other end of extreme, I don’t think we’ll be hitting the 20s until May.’

STV Meteorologist Sean Batty

“In the last few weeks, we’ve had some abnormally cold conditions but we’ve not been alone with central and western Europe colder than usual – including Spain where there was some extreme heat recently.

“Most of the country had some snow showers during the weekend, and where skies cleared at night, there were some very low temperatures.

“As we go through this week it will feel warmer by day with temperatures getting back into double digits by the end of the week, but frosts will still occur by night, although temperatures won’t be as low as recent nights.”

Sean added: “I’ve got bad news for those of you hankering after the other end of extreme, I don’t think we’ll be hitting the 20s until May.”


Brown calls on G7 to spearhead global vaccination push

Former PM says the mass vaccination of the world should be primary focus of the G7 summit in Cornwall.

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The G7 nations should commit £22bn a year as part of a “Herculean” push for global vaccination, Gordon Brown has said.

The former prime minister has called for the mass vaccination of the world to be the primary focus of the G7 summit, which starts on June 11 in Cornwall.

US president Joe Biden is expected to attend the event, along with the other G7 leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the EU.

Brown said: “Nobody is safe anywhere until everybody is safe everywhere. If the disease keeps spreading in Africa and Asia it will come back and haunt us here, it will mutate and we’ll still be in trouble several years from now.

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“So it makes sense not only for us to help ourselves but to help get the vaccination done in other countries, and at the moment although 70 or 80% of adults in Britain are being vaccinated, it’s less than 1% in sub-Saharan Africa and only a few are getting access to the vaccines and we’ve got to do something different.

“So, the G7 meets in Britain in a few weeks’ time, Boris Johnson is chairing it, they’re the richest countries, they should come to an agreement; we’ll pay 60% of the costs, then Russia, China, the oil states and all the other countries like Scandinavia can do more we could pay to vaccinate the world if we come together and club together to meet the cost.”

Vaccines are currently shared internationally under the World Health Organisation-backed Covax programme, which is working to provide vaccines for low and middle-income countries.

However, Brown said the issue is not a shortage in the number of vaccines, but the “shortage of money to pay for them”, adding the funds needed to end the global crisis “are a fraction of the trillions Covid is costing us”.

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Writing in The Guardian, Brown says the G7 nations must spearhead a “Herculean mobilisation” of pharmaceutical companies, national militaries and health workers to reach the “greatest number of people in the shortest time across the widest geography.”

He writes: “As things stand, affluent countries accounting for 18% of the world’s population have bought 4.6 billion doses – 60% of confirmed orders. About 780 million vaccines have been administered to date, but less than 1% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa have been injected.

“Immunising the West but only a fraction of the developing world is already fuelling allegations of ‘vaccine apartheid’, and will leave Covid-19 spreading, mutating and threatening the lives and livelihoods of us all for years to come.”

“We need to spend now to save lives, and we need to spend tomorrow to carry on vaccinating each year until the disease no longer claims lives. And this will require at least 30 billion dollars (£22bn) a year, a bill no one so far seems willing to fully underwrite.”

Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to the Government, told Sky News: “Wherever there is disease, we know there is a risk – it is in our self-interest to get vaccination occurring around the world.

“Wherever it occurs in the world, whatever we do, it will arrive here.

“The notion, put forward by Gordon Brown, that the G7 ought to be supporting international vaccination is really top rate. We must support that.”

Coronavirus: Some high school pupils return to class full-time

Pupils in Aberdeen, Fife, Dumfries and Galloway, Moray, Shetland and the Western Isles are back to in-person learning.

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Secondary school pupils in some council areas are back to full-time in-person learning.

High school pupils in some local authority areas are returning to the classroom full-time on Monday.

Pupils in Aberdeen, Fife, Dumfries and Galloway, Moray, Shetland and the Western Isles are back to in-person learning.

They will no longer have to adhere to strick two metre social distancing rules but other mitigations have been strengthened.

Face masks must be worn in all areas – classrooms, corridors and communal areas. This applies to S1-S3 pupils – not just those in the senior phase of their school education (S4-S6) – unless medically exempt.

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Furthermore, twice-weekly lateral flow tests are available for all secondary school pupils.

The majoirty of schools in Scotland are still on their Easter break and most pupils will return full time from next Monday. April 19.

Pupils in Edinburgh and Midlothian council areas will return the following day, on April 20.

Only those who are shielding will have to wait longer until they can resume face-to-face lessons.

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Scotland’s primary pupils returned to class full-time in stages during February and March, while most high-school students were seeing teachers in-person on a part-time basis.

This year’s National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exams have been cancelled, with results being awarded instead through coursework and assessment.

Sturgeon: Westminster will not stand in the way of Indyref2

SNP leader does not believe Boris Johnson will prevent a second referendum if her party wins a majority at Holyrood.

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SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon believes UK Government discussions on independence have moved on.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon does not believe Boris Johnson will prevent a second Scottish independence referendum if the SNP wins a majority at next month’s Holyrood election.

The Prime Minister has so far rejected calls to give the go-ahead for a referendum, but Sturgeon said she believes UK Government discussions have moved on.

She told the Guardian: “If people in Scotland vote for a party saying, ‘when the time is right, there should be an independence referendum’, you cannot stand in the way of that, and I don’t think that is what will happen.”

Sturgeon said she believes discussions within the UK government had “moved away from ‘we can stop a referendum’ to ‘when would it happen, and on what basis would it happen?’”

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She said: “People will always challenge that because of what the supposed position of the UK government is,” adding that she is “pretty confident” the SNP’s plan B of a referendum Bill at Scottish Parliament will not be needed.

In an 11-point plan earlier this year, her party said it would announce a referendum through legislation at Holyrood if there is an SNP majority but the UK Government refused to grant a Section 30 order, effectively daring Westminster to challenge it in the courts.

Sturgeon said her “strong preference and intention” is to hold another referendum in the first half of the parliament, up to 2023, but she will be “guided by the realities of Covid”.

She also addressed comments from her predecessor as first minister, Alex Salmond, in his role as leader of the Alba Party, that peaceful protests and legal action could also be used in pursuit of independence, saying they could put off potential independence supporters.

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Sturgeon told the newspaper: “If you’re somebody that voted no in 2014 and … because of Brexit or other things, are now open-minded to independence – and I know an awful lot of these people – and you hear somebody say they think they can bulldoze their way to independence in spite of public opinion, I would think, ‘maybe I don’t want to engage in this any more’.”

Warrant issued for man who racially abused Humza Yousaf

Stuart Smith, 63, has repeatedly failed to return to Glasgow Sheriff Court for sentencing.

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Targeted: Humza Yousaf was racially abused online.

A man convicted of racially abusing justice secretary Humza Yousaf has been issued with a warrant for his arrest.

Stuart Smith, 63, claimed the SNP MSP supported “Muslim killers” and raised money for their families.

The message was sent on November 14, 2015 – the day after the Paris terror attack and was in response to a screenshot of Mr Yousaf’s “#PrayForParis” tweet.

Smith said Mr Yousaf had a “good Scots name”, adding: “I am sure he is 90% backing Muslim killers. Be having a whip round for terrorist families soon.”

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Smith was found guilty in November following a trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court of behaving in a threatening or abusive manner aggravated by religious prejudice.

But, he failed to attend several sentencing hearings claiming to be suffering from ill health.

Sheriff Sean Murphy QC told his lawyer Iain McCelland on the last occasion that he should attend Monday’s hearing or a warrant would be issued.

Mr McCelland told the court that he had emailed Smith, of Gretna in Dumfries and Galloway, as well as sent him written correspondence.

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Sheriff Murphy said: “He was warned to be here last time, warrant to apprehend.”


How many in priority groups have received the Covid vaccine?

More than 32 million people in the UK have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

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More than 32 million people in the UK have received the first dose of the vaccine.

More than 32 million people in the UK have now received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

This is the equivalent of the number of people identified as belonging in the top nine priority groups for the vaccine.

The Government has set a target of the middle of April to offer a first dose of vaccine to everybody in the nine groups, including all those aged 50 and over.

But what do the latest figures suggest about how many people in these groups have actually had a jab?

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– Scotland

At least 95% of people in Scotland in each age group for those 55 and over have received a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, according to Public Health Scotland.

The estimate for 50-to-54-year-olds is 81%.

The figures are for doses given up to April 10, and also suggest all staff working in care homes have had a first dose, along with 90% of frontline health care workers and 81% of frontline social care workers.

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Some 86% of 16-to-64-year-olds with underlying health conditions have received their first jab, along with 94% of people who had been advised to shield.

– England

Around 94% of people aged 50 and over in England are likely to have had their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

The figures are for doses given up to April 4, which are the latest available estimates from NHS England.

They suggest 94% of 55-to-59-year olds had received a first jab by that date, as well as 87% of 50-to-54-year-olds.

More than a quarter of 16-to-49-year-olds (28%) are also likely to have received their first dose.

Many of those people are likely to fall into one of the priority groups that are not age-specific: for example, staff working in care homes for older adults, frontline health and social care workers, and adults classed as clinically extremely vulnerable or with underlying health conditions.

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NHS England also estimates 79% of eligible staff in older care homes in England have received their first dose, along with 70% of staff working in younger adult care homes or domiciliary care providers registered with the Care Quality Commission, plus 69% of staff in other social care settings such as local authority providers.

Around 92% of those identified as clinically extremely vulnerable have had their first dose, as well as 79% of those aged 16 to 64 identified as at risk or a carer.

– Wales

The Welsh Government announced last week that it would have offered a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine to everyone in the top nine priority groups by Sunday April 11.

Around 90% of people aged 50 and over in Wales are likely to have received their first jab, according to the latest figures from Public Health Wales.

This includes 87% of 55-to-59-year-olds and 79% of 50-to-54-year-olds.

The latest figures are for vaccines given up to 10pm on April 10.

First Minister Mark Drakeford told a press briefing on Thursday April 8: “By Sunday we will have offered a vaccine to everyone in the first nine priority groups – that’s everyone over 50, all adults with an underlying health condition and a great many unpaid carers.

“By Sunday, a minimum of 75% of those in each priority group will have received a first vaccination.”

Some 83% of 16-to-64-year-olds in clinical risk groups have had their first dose, along with 92% of those aged 16 to 69 identified as clinically extremely vulnerable.

– Northern Ireland

Vaccines in Northern Ireland have already been rolled out to the 45 to 49 and 40 to 44 age groups.

The latest figures from the Northern Ireland Department of Health suggest 92% of people aged 70 and over have had their first dose of vaccine, along with 79% of 65-to-69-year olds and 40% of 60-to-64-year-olds.

Around 33% of people aged 50 to 59 have so far received a first dose.

MacIntyre: I’m not missing Masters next year ‘for anything’

The 24-year-old from Oban secured a place in next year's tournament after finishing in the top 12 at Augusta.

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Robert MacIntyre will be back at the Masters next year after impressive debut performance.

Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre was thrilled to secure a place in next year’s Masters after making a hugely impressive debut at Augusta National.

With the top 12 and ties guaranteed an invite for 2022, MacIntyre was in danger of missing out until he birdied the 18th in a closing 72 to finish in a six-way tie for 12th.

“This is a place you want to be competing every year,” the left-hander from Oban said. “My first time this year and I obviously put up a decent fight, but once you come here, you don’t want to miss another one.

“I’m not missing next year for anything. I’ve played some great golf over the last week and I feel like my game suits this golf course.

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“The way I play golf suits the way this golf course wants you to play golf. I’m just over the moon to finish the way I finished.

“If someone had given me tied for 12th for a start, I’d have taken it, but then once I started getting into the battle, I could see how people were making scores.

“Obviously got off to a poor start today, but I battled back the way I normally do. Disappointing bogeys on 16 and 17, but huge birdieing the last.

“This moment right now is everything I’ve ever dreamed of, and it’s what I play golf for.

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“I’ve got to take the positives. I’ve played great for my first year and tried to manage my way around a golf course that I’ve never seen – I’ve only played it on computer games with my pals.”

Annual ‘toadageddon’ sees volunteers rescue thousands of toads

The toads have needed a bit of a helping hand crossing busy roads in Edinburgh.

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Thousands of toads have been rescued by ‘toad patrols’ over the last few weeks during their annual journey to their breeding ponds.

More than 2500 toads have been rescued by volunteers across Edinburgh and the Lothians during their migration.

The Lothian Amphibian and Reptile Group (LARG), which has been running the patrols for the last 12 years, said this includes between 500 and 700 female toads. This means an extra one million toad eggs in ponds – a considerable achievement in the task to protect the species which has seen numbers plummet over the years due to habitat loss.

In the UK the toad population has declined by 70% in the last 30 years, according to research from Save The Frog.

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Each year the toads wake from winter hibernation and head en masse to ponds which may have been used for generations, but it often involves risking their lives crossing busy roads.

In order to help them out, park rangers at Holyrood in Edinburgh have shut the road between the bottom of Arthur’s Seat to Dunsapie Loch over the last few weeks to keep out cars and discourage cyclists.

Rangers from Historic Environment Scotland also put metal covers over roadside drains to stop the toads from falling in and drowning.

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Rescue: A number of paramedics and nurses have helped out this year.

This year, a number of paramedics and nurses in Edinburgh joined the nightly toad patrols after seeing an increase of toads crossing the busy bus lanes at Edinburgh Royal infirmary.

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Although a recent cold snap has most likely meant an end to the seasonal migration, LARG is still able to help toads if there are any future public sightings.

If you do see any while out in the Lothians, email Lothianarg@outlook.com to pass on the information.


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