City centres deserted as coronavirus ‘lockdown’ takes hold

Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen deserted after UK and Scottish governments issue stay-at-home order.

City centres across Scotland are largely deserted as people comply with government orders to stay at home and only travel if absolutely necessary.

The country is currently on day two of an effective lockdown following the introduction of strict new measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus announced by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday evening.

People should only go to the shops for essentials like food or medicine as infrequently as possible, and should not go out to see friends or family members who do not live at the same house.

Glasgow Subway said on Wednesday it will close early each night as the country gets to grips with the strengthened measures.

From Wednesday, the underground system will close at 9pm when the last train leaves St Enoch.

Police are also carrying out patrols in public spaces such as parks and have the power to issue fines and disperse groups of more than two people.

Many of Scotland’s iconic landmarks and main thoroughfares – including George Square in Glasgow, the Grassmarket in Edinburgh and Union Street in Aberdeen, have been eerily quiet this week as a result of the new curbs on everyday life.


Coronavirus: 16 more dead as cases rise to 2310 in Scotland

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the death toll in Scotland from Covid-19 now stands at 76.

Another 16 people have died from coronavirus overnight, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

It brings the Scottish death toll from Covid-19 to 76.

The number of confirmed positive cases in Scotland stands at 2310 – up 317 from Tuesday’s 1993.

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the rise at Holyrood on Wednesday.

A total of 147 patients are currently in intensive care, an increase of 12 from Tuesday.

The First Minister said the number of intensive care beds has been doubled – with the Scottish Government aiming to ensure it will be quadrupled, with operating theatres in NHS hospitals being re-purposed.

Sturgeon told MSPs that 1153 patients are currently in Scottish hospitals suffering from Covid-19.

The Scottish Government is also “working at pace” to boost its ability to test suspected cases, with the number of tests being done each day sitting at 1900 – a rise from 750 a few weeks ago.

Source: Scottish Government

Every health board area in Scotland has now reported cases after three were confirmed on the Western Isles and two on Orkney.

The highest number of confirmed Covid-19 patients remains in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area with 632 – a rise of 85 in a day.

There are 42 fresh cases in the Lothian region, taking the health board’s total to 311, 40 more each in Lanarkshire and Tayside, up to 284 and 254 respectively, and 22 new cases in Ayrshire and Arran, up to 199.

Forth Valley is up 15 to 146, Grampian is up 22 to 108, and Dumfries and Galloway has reached 100 cases, up eight in the last 24 hours,

There are 96 confirmed cases in Fife (up 20), 87 in the Borders (up ten), 58 in the Highlands (up seven) and 30 on Shetland (up one).

Across the UK, total patient deaths from coronavirus have risen to 2352 – a rise of 563 in 24 hours.

Temporary Covid-19 hospital at SEC ready ‘within two weeks’

The Glasgow site will initially have 300 beds available for coronavirus patients but could eventually treat 1000.

STV
Glasgow: Scottish Event Campus turned into hospital.

A temporary hospital being set up at the SEC in Glasgow to help deal with the Covid-19 outbreak will be ready “within a fortnight”, the First Minister has said.

She said the site would initially have 300 beds available with the intention to eventually be able to treat 1000.

Nicola Sturgeon stressed she hopes the temporary hospital will “not need to be used” amid expectations of coronavirus cases in Scotland reaching their peak within the next two to three weeks.

Addressing MSPs on Wednesday, the First Minister said measures had been taken across the NHS in Scotland to boost hospital and intensive care capacity.

The Scottish Government later confirmed the emergency Glasgow site will be named after Glaswegian First World War nurse Louisa Jordan.

Sturgeon said the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care is 147 as of Wednesday, an increase of almost 100 since the same time last week.

The increase in intensive care patients will be felt by frontline staff in the coming weeks, Sturgeon added.

A total of 1153 confirmed or suspected Covid-19 patients are being treated in Scottish hospitals at present, she told MSPs.

The number of intensive care beds available for Covid-19 patients has been boosted to 250, with plans to double it to 500 by end of the week and eventually raise it to 750.

This has partly been achieved by repurposing operating theatres in NHS hospitals, the First Minister said.

Another 16 people have died overnight after being diagnosed with the virus, taking Scotland’s death toll to 76, while total confirmed cases – believed to be an underestimate – rose by 317 to stand at 2310.

On the hospital at the SEC, Sturgeon said: “We expect this facility to be ready to care for patients within a fortnight.

“It will have 300 beds available initially with the capacity ultimately to care for 1000 patients if that proves to be necessary.

“But let me clear that our current hope and, indeed, our current expectation is that this hospital will not need to be used.

“However, we are preparing now, I think rightly, so that we are ready if necessary.”

Speaking later in Holyrood, health secretary Jeane Freeman said the temporary site will be named after Louisa Jordan, a First World War nurse from Glasgow who lost her life in Serbia.

In response to a question from MSP George Adam about the name of the hospital, she said: “The name that has been chosen for that hospital is the NHS Louisa Jordan.

“That is in honour of Louisa Jordan, who was born in Maryhill, joined the Scottish Women’s Hospital in 1914, served in Serbia during the First World War and was the daughter of a painter.

“She cared particularly for typhus patients but unfortunately contracted that disease and died herself at the age of 36 and is remembered every year in Serbia for the care and commitment she gave to them.”

Ms Freeman added: “It is very good indeed that she will now be remembered in her native Glasgow.”

The move comes after the temporary hospital at the Excel Centre in London was named the NHS Nightingale Hospital, after famed nurse Florence Nightingale.

Edinburgh’s summer festivals cancelled due to coronavirus

Capital's big five annual arts festivals won't go ahead this year for the first time in their history.

Millions of people travel to Edinburgh every summer for the capital's festivals.

Edinburgh’s summer festivals have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Fringe, International Festival, Jazz and Blues Festival, Book Festival and Military Tattoo announced their plans on Wednesday.

It’s the first time the festivals have been cancelled in their 70-year history.

In a widely expected move, Edinburgh’s council leader said it “was a profoundly difficult decision”.

Tens of thousands of performances take place in the capital every summer in what is widely believed to be the biggest event of its kind anywhere in the world.

Artists and audiences visit Edinburgh each summer from across the world, and with travel restrictions in place indefinitely to fight Covid-19, organisers had no choice but to pull the plug.

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: “It’s heartbreaking that the Fringe and our sister August festivals will not take place as planned this summer.

“However, having taken advice and considered all the options, we  collectively believe this is the only appropriate response.”

Council leader Adam McVey said support would be offered to the cultural sector.

He said: “This was a profoundly difficult decision– leaving a massive gap in our Capital – but clearly it was the right one.

“Our thoughts are very much with all those fantastic artists, writers, performers and organisations who were working so hard to prepare for another busy festival season.”

Councillor McVey added: “We’ll continue to work with all of our citizens, colleagues and stakeholders to do everything we can to make sure we come through 2020 and look forward to again bringing the world to Edinburgh and Edinburgh to the world for our summer festivals in 2021.”

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Live: Coronavirus news updates from across Scotland

People have been told to stay at home in an effort to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

2.45pm: Amazon worker tests positive for coronavirus

A worker at the Amazon depot in Dunfermline has tested positive for coronavirus.

An Amazon spokesperson said: “We are supporting the individual who is now in quarantine.

“Since the early days of this situation, we have worked closely with local authorities to proactively respond, ensuring we continue to serve customers while taking care of our associates and we’re following all guidelines from local officials about the operations of our buildings. 

“We have implemented proactive measures at our facilities to protect employees including increased cleaning at all facilities, maintaining social distance in the FC, and adding distance between drivers and customers when making deliveries.” 

2.15pm: New benefits put on hold

Plans to introduce new benefits in Scotland have been put on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Social security secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville told MSPs on Wednesday that “tough decisions” are having to be made across departments.

She said the Child Disability Payment and the Scottish replacement for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) will be delayed.

Staff at Social Security Scotland are largely working from home, she said, and difficulties created by the pandemic mean “business as usual is not an option.”

While existing payments will continue to be delivered, the two new benefits will be pushed back for at least several months.

They were expected to start in 2020.

The Scottish Child Payment, which will help families on low incomes and was on track to begin this autumn, has also been postponed.

12.10pm: 16 more dead as cases rise to 2310 in Scotland

Another 16 people have died from coronavirus overnight, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

It brings the Scottish death toll from Covid-19 to 76.

The number of confirmed positive cases in Scotland stands at 2310 – up 317 from Tuesday’s 1993.

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the rise at Holyrood on Wednesday.

12pm: Edinburgh’s summer festivals cancelled

Edinburgh’s summer festivals have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Fringe, International Festival, Jazz and Blues Festival, Book Festival and Military Tattoo announced their plans on Wednesday.

It’s the first time the festivals have been cancelled in their 70-year history.

11.30am: Coronavirus Bill passes stage one at Holyrood

The Scottish Government’s emergency coronavirus Bill passed the first stage of parliamentary scrutiny after plans to suspend jury trials were dropped.

The provision, which would scrap juries in the most serious cases in Scottish courts, proved controversial with other parties and members of the legal profession following the publication of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill on Tuesday.

Constitutional relations secretary Mike Russell confirmed another Bill will be brought before Holyrood to address necessary changes to the justice system during the pandemic.

In another concession from the Scottish Government, Europe minister Jenny Gilruth announced amendments will be tabled to address concerns over the extension of the deadline for freedom of information (FOI) requests, which the Bill looked to push from 20 to 60 working days.

11am: Scottish charities to receive £1.4m Kiltwalk boost

Scottish charities hit by the coronavirus pandemic will share a £1.4m cash boost from a fundraising walk – despite the event being postponed.

The Glasgow Kiltwalk was due to take place on Sunday, April 26 but organisers decided it could no longer go ahead in light of the virus outbreak.

They urged participants to keep fundraising and £720,000 has been collected for charity.

Philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter, of The Hunter Foundation, which underwrites the Kiltwalk, has now announced he will double the funds raised instead of his planned 50% increase.

The cash will be given to hundreds of charities including Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, Beatson Cancer Charity, amputee support organisation Finding Your Feet and Calum’s Cabin, which organises breaks for children with cancer and their families.

Food banks such as Paul’s Parcels in Shotts, North Lanarkshire, are also being helped and the charity said the cash will enable them to double the number of families given food parcels.

10.45am: BP cuts spending amid ‘brutal’ conditions

BP said it is acting quickly to strengthen its finances amid the “most brutal environment for oil and gas businesses in decades” after prices plummeted in the face of coronavirus.

The oil giant said it will reduce its capital spending plans by 25% – with a new forecast of $12bn – as part of cost reductions.

However, it stressed that no BP employee will be laid off during the next three months as a result of virus-related cost-cutting.

The company added that it will reduce output from its US shale oil and gas business, with plans to cut investment in its shale arm by $1bn.

The price of oil has crashed in recent weeks due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, with Brent crude falling to an 18-year low on Monday.

BP said it expects to achieve $2.5bn in cost savings by the end of 2021 as it looks to mitigate the impact of lower prices.

10.30am: Stranded tourists wait for news on charter flights

Hundreds of thousands of UK citizens stranded abroad face an anxious wait for details of rescue flights to be announced.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has set aside £75m to charter flights from destinations where commercial routes have been severed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Repatriation flights operated from Peru and Tunisia on Tuesday, but details of further flights have not been revealed.

On March 23, the FCO advised all UK residents who were travelling abroad to return home.

Hundreds of thousands of people have since travelled back on commercial flights, but transport secretary Grant Shapps estimates around 300,000 are still overseas.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said on Monday that only 1400 UK nationals had been repatriated on flights chartered by the Government.

He said that once flights have been chartered they will be promoted in the Government’s travel advice and by embassies and high commissions in relevant countries.

He acknowledged the FCO has not “faced an international challenge quite like this before” but insisted “we are going to rise to it”.

10.20am: Manufacturing sector ‘knocked sideways’

UK manufacturers had their worst month in eight years in March as the economy was ground down by efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus across the world.

Manufacturing output fell to its worst extent since July 2012, according to the data from IHS Markit and CIPS.

The closely watched Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 47.8 in March, down from 51.7 the month before. If the sector scores below 50 it means that it is contracting.

Direct disruption from Covid-19 created a perfect storm, along with lower market confidence and companies shutting down to slow production and new business, the survey found.

10am: Scottish Government drops trial without jury plans

Controversial plans to temporarily end trial by jury have been dropped from the Scottish Government’s emergency coronavirus legislation.

Constitution Secretary Mike Russell told Holyrood that they were withdrawing that section of the Coronavirus Scotland Bill “to allow an intensive and wide-ranging discussion by all interested parties, including victims, whose voice has not yet been fully heard, about the right way to ensure that justice continues to be done in Scotland”.

Mr Russell also said that he expected the Scottish Government to bring a “standalone Bill” back to the parliament on the next sitting day – believed to be April 21 – on how the justice system will function during the outbreak.

9am: Taylor Wimpey cancels bosses’ bonuses

Top bosses at Taylor Wimpey will not get their added rewards this year after the company closed all of its construction sites.

The housebuilder said that annual bonuses will be scrapped and the board will take a 30% pay cut, as it tries to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

The company also plans to cancel a 2% annual salary increase for its executive directors which was set to come into force on April 1.

“The objective of these changes is to conserve cash, with a particular focus on protecting the long-term financial security of the business as a whole, for the benefit of all of the company’s stakeholders,” Taylor Wimpey said in a statement to shareholders on Wednesday morning.

The housebuilder last month shut all its construction sites, show homes and sales centres. It was later joined by fellow builders Bellway, Persimmon and Barratt Developments.

8.45am: Schoolboy braves the shave for nurses

A kind-hearted six-year-old boy has shaved his head to raise money for hardworking NHS nurses.

Bannon McLellan, from Fallin in Stirling, said: “I wanted to raise money for the nurses so I could help people.

“I like it. I’m calling myself baldy.”

Fundraiser: Bannon McLellan shaved his head.

The St Margaret’s Primary School pupil raised £500 in 48 hours.

As a newborn baby, he spent a week in Forth Valley Royal Hospital’s neonatal unit. He had fluid in his lungs and was in an incubator fully ventilated. 

His mum, Tammie, said she has never forgotten the kindness shown by the “amazing” nurses and goes back to the hospital every Christmas with chocolates to say thank you.

Having seen all the hard work being done by NHS workers during this Covid-19 pandemic, she stated: “We wanted to give something back to help everyone in the frontline.”

8.30am: Householders urged to compost garden waste

Aberdeenshire residents tending to their gardens during the coronavirus lockdown are being encouraged to compost their garden waste.

The recommendation from Aberdeenshire Council comes following the closure of the authority’s household waste and recycling centres across the region.

Home compost bins can be purchased through the council and enables residents to compost their garden waste as well as some food waste.

Residents are also urged not to burn their garden waste or leave items at the gates of the closed recycling centres.

Ellon: Recycling centres in Aberdeenshire have been closed.

A spokesperson for Aberdeenshire Council said: “Burning waste is not lawful and we strongly advise against it.

“We have some guidance on our website for how to properly dispose of garden waste.

“We understand many householders are struggling with excess waste as a result of the HRC closures. However, we are urging residents to be responsible with their rubbish and not leave bags at the gates. 

“This is considered fly-tipping and legal action will be taken against those responsible.

“Additionally, loose bags pose a direct health risk to our staff, who need to handle these materials. 

“We advise residents dispose of materials at home where possible, or store recyclable goods until the centres reopen.”

8.15am: Charity delivers 2300 food hampers to those in need

A Glasgow-based charity that aims to tackle poverty has delivered 2300 food hampers to those in need since the coronavirus crisis began.

Fare (Family Action Rogerfield and Easterhouse) Scotland has been raising funds through its JustGiving page to provide the most vulnerable people with extra food.

Councillor Thomas Kerr praised the charity and all those who have donated.

He added: “The slogan ‘People Make Glasgow’ has never been truer than over these past few weeks as our city battles against the coronavirus pandemic and Fare are just one of the hundreds of organisations who have made a real and lasting difference to so many in our communities.

“Delivering 2300 food hampers – that’s 60,000 meals for vulnerable people in the East End – is truly inspiring.”

7.55am: Tens of thousands of safety equipment donated

Almost 32,000 pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been donated to Glasgow City Council following a plea for donations last week.

Glasgow’s lord provost Phillip Braat thanked the organisations and individuals for all the supplies received so far but urged Glaswegians to keep donating if they could to protect communities and frontline staff.

City Chambers: Glasgow council has appealed for more donations. Getty Images

Mr Braat said that Glasgow needed to prepare for the “long haul” as the crisis continued.

He added: “These past few weeks have been very momentous as the country endures lockdown. We need to realise that this crisis is extremely severe and will not end in the next few weeks.

“There is still a long way to go. That’s why I am re-appealing to the generosity of individuals and organisations who can afford to provide more supplies.”

Appealing for gloves, aprons, face masks and hand sanitiser, the lord provost added: “I want to assure the public that any donations however big or small will be greatly received and will all go towards keeping you and our frontline staff safe during these difficult times.”

7.20am: Major insurers pull out of travel insurance deals

Nearly half of the UK’s major insurers have pulled out of the travel insurance market since the coronavirus pandemic sparked chaos around the world, Which? has found.

The consumer group contacted 75 insurance providers to find out if and how they were amending their provision of travel insurance following the outbreak.

Which? researchers found that 31 insurers, including household names such as Aviva, LV= and Direct Line, had temporarily suspended the sale of travel insurance to new customers as a result of the pandemic.

A further 13 had changed aspects of their policies.

Existing customers who booked their trips and purchased their insurance before the outbreak, or before insurers amended their terms to exclude claims related to coronavirus, should still be able to claim for any non-refundable costs of cancelled holidays or travel plans as a result of the virus, Which? said.

7.15am: Briton dies aboard coronavirus-hit cruise ship

A British national is among four people to have died on a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship embroiled in a bitter dispute over plans to disembark passengers in the US.

In what is being described as an unfolding humanitarian crisis, so far two of the four people to have died on the cruise ship Zaandam have been confirmed to have had Covid-19, with nine people aboard testing positive and 189 reporting flu-like symptoms.

A spokesman for Holland America Line, which operates the Zaandam, said: “One of the deceased passengers is from the UK.

“Due to US laws, we cannot provide any additional medical and health details.”

The Zaandam, which is carrying more than 200 British nationals, and its sister ship the Rotterdam, passed through the Panama Canal on Monday after being denied entry to several ports. 

Both ships are seeking to dock in Florida later this week.

7.10am: Petrol stations ‘will be forced to close’

Many petrol stations will be forced to close due to a lack of sales and their businesses becoming unprofitable, a trade association has warned.

The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) stated that sites in rural areas where fuel use has collapsed the most are particularly vulnerable.

The PRA, which represents independent fuel retailers who account for 70% of UK forecourts, advised motorists to check their petrol station is still open before going to fill up.

Fuel: Petrol stations could close due to Covid-19.

It will attempt to keep a “strategic network of petrol stations” open across the country.

PRA chairman Brian Madderson said: “To help freight move and help key workers travel safely and independently through this period of crisis, petrol filling stations must remain open but this is proving to be a challenge.

“Fuel retailers are having to maintain pump prices at previous levels to avoid suffering significant stock losses.”

The PRA cited figures published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) over the weekend which it said show that three out of five petrol stations have full storage tanks.

It noted that independent retailers would have bought this fuel days or weeks earlier at much higher wholesale prices than those available today.

The trade body also said fuel consumption has fallen by more than 70% due to the pandemic.

7am: ‘Pay extra attention to electrical safety’

People working from home have been warned about overloading sockets, daisy chaining, and charging devices on beds during lockdown.

Electrical Safety First is concerned that many may be putting themselves at unnecessary risk due to unsafe electrical set-ups, amid a rise in remote working due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Safety tips

  • Don’t charge electrical items on beds. Always charge on a hard, flat, non-flammable surface.
  • Avoid overloading sockets and extension leads.
  • Keep your workstation tidy.
  • Be mindful of cables – they can present a trip hazard.
  • Don’t daisy chain extension leads.
  • If cooking at lunchtime, be mindful not to get distracted by emails or work calls that may result in the hob being left on and unattended.

6.30am: Scotland captain backs charity helping elderly

Scotland captain Andy Robertson has given his backing to a charity supporting elderly people during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Liverpool defender said he wants people to know Age Scotland, which has experienced a tenfold increase in calls during the Covid-19 outbreak, is there for them.

Captain: Liverpool and Scotland defender Andy Robertson. SNS Group

Age Scotland typically receives around 70 calls a week but this has spiked to more than 700.

Robertson said: “I want people to know that Age Scotland is here for them.

“Their fantastic helpline is offering great support to older people and their families as we all adapt to a new way of life for a while.”

For support, call 0800 12 44 222.

6.30am: Domestic abuse will be prosecuted ‘firmly’ during lockdown

Domestic abuse cases will be prosecuted firmly and fairly during the coronavirus pandemic, Scotland’s senior law officer has said.

The Lord Advocate, James Wolffe QC, told victims he knows they may be more at risk during the lockdown but said public safety remains a priority for law enforcement during this period.

Mr Wolffe’s assurances come a year after the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 came into effect, criminalising coercive and controlling behaviour towards a partner or ex-partner.

6.30am: New contactless card limit rolled out

Shoppers will now be able to make contactless card payments with a new higher limit of up to £45 per transaction.

The limit in shops is increasing from £30, as part of measures to combat coronavirus.

It will mean more payments can be made without the need to handle cash and it will also reduce the number of occasions when people need to input their pin on a machine when making payments.

An increased limit was already being considered but the process has been accelerated as part of the finance and payments industry’s response to Covid-19.

6.30am: Holyrood to vote on emergency legislation

MSPs are expected to pass emergency legislation to tackle coronavirus in a rare one-day sitting on Wednesday.

Introduced on Tuesday by constitutional relations secretary Mike Russell, the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill will make changes to the legal system, rental sector and public services as a result of the virus.

MSPs will be asked to grant emergency status to the Bill on Wednesday morning, allowing the three-stage process to take place in a single day.

6.30am: The fight against coronavirus continues

People are expected to remain at home in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Nine days ago, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Britons should only go out for exercise once a day.

Gatherings of two of more people are banned, except for members of the same household. 

People should only go to the shops for essentials like food or medicine as infrequently as possible, and should not go out to see friends or family members who do not live in the same house.

Body of Billy McNeill’s missing grandson found in Amsterdam

Matthew McCombe’s parents said the 21-year-old was 'much loved by all'.

Family: Matthew McCombe was 'much loved by all'.

The body of Billy McNeill’s grandson has been found in Amsterdam 18 days after going missing.

Matthew McCombe’s parents said he was “much loved by all”, adding: “Our hearts are broken.”

The 21-year-old, whose mum is the daughter of late Celtic legend McNeill, was last seen on the Berlagebrug bridge at 8.15am on March 14.

Police launched a search while Mr McCombe’s mum appealed to the “Celtic family” to share his picture far and wide in an effort to help trace him.

Celtic FC also issued an appeal for help.

Amsterdam police said on Wednesday that a body had been found in the water at the Molenkade in Duivendrecht, about four miles south-east of the city.

A police spokesman confirmed the body was that of the missing Scot.

He said: “This morning we found a corpse in the water at the Molenkade in Duivendrecht.

“Our colleagues discovered that this is the missing Matthew McCombe.

“We are investigating the cause of death.”

His parents – Paula and Charlie – posted a message on Facebook, stating: “It is with great sadness that we are announcing our son Matthew McCombe’s body was found this morning.

“Matthew was much loved by all and our hearts are broken.

“We would like to thank everyone who has helped in the search for Matthew and for the love, compassion and kindness that has been extended to us since our arrival in Amsterdam.

“As a family we would kindly ask for our privacy to be respected in these sad times.”

Celtic shared a statement expressing their ‘devastation’ at the news.

The club’s chief executive Peter Lawwell said: “The passing of Matthew is devastating news for the entire McNeill family and our thoughts and prayers are very much with all family members at such a very difficult time.

“We know the search for Matthew has been long and difficult and everyone at the club is hugely saddened that it has concluded in this way, with such a heartbreaking result.

“For such a fine young man to be taken so early in his life is a real tragedy. Clearly, we will be here to offer the McNeill family our absolute, heartfelt support.”

Hibs have also paid tribute.

A spokesperson said: “Everyone at Hibernian is saddened at the news of the passing of Matthew McCombe, grandson of Billy McNeill.

“Matthew was once part of our academy set-up, playing alongside the likes of Fraser Murray and Ryan Porteous. 

“Our thoughts are with family and friends at this time.”

Cancer patients voice concerns over impact on treatments

Patients say the coronavirus outbreak has 'thrown everything up in the air'.

Cancer patients have voiced their concerns over the spread of coronavirus and how it is impacting their treatments. 

Earlier this week it was announced all breast, cervical and bowel screenings will be postponed for at least 12 weeks to allow the NHS to deal effectively with the impact of Covid-19.

Treatments are also being changed, with some patients having their sessions deferred and others given different drugs so they are not prone to infection.

Lisa Fleming, who was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer in 2017, is worried about the impact on medical trials.

She said: “It’s hard enough to live with this disease but add in Covid-19 and it’s just thrown everything up in the air.

“What is going to happen with medical trials as a number of stage four patients are dependent on medical trials to prolong our lives?

“So to answer these questions, I think would give us just a little bit more reassurance.”.

Seamus Tahan, regional lead cancer clinician west of Scotland, explains that changes are being made to reduce the risk for patients.

He said: “Whereas maybe a week or two ago we might have recommended for example an operation, we might now be considering treatments that have an equal outcome or a very similar outcome but that might be a better treatment at this point in time in relation to the risk associated with that treatment.”

Matthew Smith was diagnosed with a brain tumour four years ago, and despite a prognosis of 12 to 18 months, he’s now in a stable place.

‘We are quite lucky that Matthew has been really healthy and just the thought of anything changing that is just really really stressful for both of us and I just kind of want to bubble wrap him.’

Hayley Smith

However the spread of coronavirus has been cause for concern, with Matthew’s wife Hayley worried about the virus impacting her husband’s health.

“We are quite lucky that Matthew has been really healthy and just the thought of anything changing that is just really really stressful for both of us and I just kind of want to bubble wrap him,” she said.

Matthew added: “My results are actually next week so that is also playing on my mind very much so, in terms of the result itself and any ongoing treatment that might be required and what impact that would have on me.”

Rob Murray, from Cancer Support Scotland, says that despite screenings being cancelled, anyone who has cancer symptoms should still visit their GP.

He said: “I think it’s really important though that people across Scotland know that if they do have any symptoms for breast, bowel or cervical cancer that they follow the guidance that the FM gave yesterday and that is to go and see your GP.”

However some charities are already adapting to the changes, with Cancer Support Scotland offering new online counselling sessions.

Denise Atcheson, who is a counsellor, said: “It’s really really important that while we’re not able to offer a face-to-face service that we can still be there to offer that emotional support and wellbeing support for people who are affected by cancer.”

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Householder’s vintage lightbulbs cause chaos for pilots

Pilots flying in and out of Glasgow Airport reported radio interference between 6000 and 10,000ft in the air.

Ofcom / Pixabay
Vintage: The lightbulbs caused interference for pilots.

A householder caused chaos for Glasgow Airport’s runways after buying vintage lightbulbs online.

Experts from Ofcom’s spectrum assurance team were mobilised by National Air Traffic Services (Nats) to uncover the root of the problem when pilots flying in and out of the city reported radio interference between 6000 and 10,000ft in the air.

The interference swamped the airways and cut off voice communications between the controllers on the ground and the aircraft.

The Ofcom team used flight-tracking software along with vehicle-mounted receivers and handheld equipment to track down the source of the interference – which turned out to be four vintage lightbulbs a homeowner had recently bought online.

In a report, Ofcom said: “Due to the construction of the bulbs, they were found to be radiating a ‘noise’ when they were switched on that affected a wide range of spectrum, rather than just one frequency. 

“The house was directly underneath the flightpath of the aircraft and therefore every time an aircraft passed and the bulbs were in use, the crew suffered the interference.

“Unfortunately for the owner – but fortunately for the crew and passengers of flights in and out of Glasgow airport – the bulbs were removed from the sockets and checks with Nats and aircraft operators confirm that the area is now free of interference.”

Ofcom said its spectrum enforcement team will follow up the case with the lightbulb supplier, to make sure the bulbs aren’t sold to any more “unwitting customers”.

Scottish clubs furlough workers as shutdown continues

Celtic, Hamilton and Dundee United are among the clubs taking steps over the financial impact of coronavirus.

Celtic have furloughed staff but will pay them a full wage.

SPFL clubs have begun furloughing workers as the financial impact of the coronavirus shutdown is felt across the game.

Celtic, Hamilton, Dundee United and Montrose all announced plans on Wednesday which will see staff placed on furlough and the clubs using the UK government’s job retention scheme.

The scheme will allow the clubs to claim back 80% of wages up to a maximum of £2500 per month for each employee.

Celtic have said that they will pay their staff 100% of their wages.

A Celtic spokesperson said: “Like many organisations, due to the unprecedented challenges currently being faced, Celtic will be using the government job retention scheme available, in relation to a number of colleagues.

“At this time, Celtic will ensure that each colleague on this scheme will receive 100 per cent salary, with all other conditions and benefits remaining unchanged.

“Other colleagues will continue to work as normal to cover the club’s ongoing operational requirements.

“Celtic would like to sincerely thank each and every member of staff for all their continued efforts and their tremendous support during such a difficult time for everyone.”

Hamilton have furloughed their entire playing squad on full pay while clubs wait for news on when a return to action could be possible.

Accies chairman Allan Maitland said that the club felt payment in full was only fair but were aware that their salaries were not comparable to some players in the league.

“The players have been told that we’re going to furlough them as workers so we’re not giving them any instructions on what to do, they’re really just being told to do nothing and we’re paying them in full all the way through,” he told the Daily Record.

“Unlike other clubs who are paying a percentage of their wages etc we’ve told our players they’re going to pay them their full wages and we’ll claim back what we can.

“It’s the sensible way forward. For us, £2500 or 80 per cent of their wages covers a lot of our wages, whereas for a lot of other clubs it won’t even start to look at it.

“For us that’s a high percentage so it’s important that we try and get that support as much as we possibly can.

“We were always going to be looking after them. The fact that we’ve got this opportunity from the government – which is a great thing by the way – to help support companies, businesses and football clubs, that is a bonus for us.”

In a statement updating supporters on steps being taken at Tannadice, Dundee United managing director Mal Brannigan said that employees were being furloughed “across all departments”with just a skeleton staff remaining.

He said: “The club has decided to utilise the government’s job retention scheme and place a large number of employees across all club departments on furlough leave.

“Dundee United, in some aspects, is not unlike any other business that is either utilising this scheme currently or is in the throes of implementing it, especially as it protects the employee’s role at the club during this period.

I believe that this is the best option for Dundee United and it would be remiss of me to not make effective use of it, given the importance of protecting the long-term sustainability of the club.

“The scheme is a huge source of business relief, essentially on our cash flow, given that wages and salaries are our largest monthly outlay and an invaluable short-term lifeline to the club while we await the return of football and our usual match-day income streams.

“A skeleton staff remains at the club so that we can react to changes at the right time and with the right decision.”

Brannigan also addressed the uncertainty around the remainder of the season and what should happen if fixtures can’t be fulfilled. United are currently 14 points clear at the top of the table.

He said: “No one is clear yet on what will happen with the rest of the season and how it will conclude but I can assure you all that promotion back to the Premiership was our aim at the start of it and that will not change, however it is achieved: there has been too much invested into this season by the club and the fans to not see this ambition realised.

“It is a tough predicament that the SPFL and SFA Boards find themselves in at the moment, especially as there are no precedents to rely on.

“In my view, the direction coming from FIFA and UEFA will influence the majority of the leagues throughout Europe, including our own, as they try to re-arrange their footballing calendars and the participants for their next competitions.”

League One side Montrose also furloughed staff and players. Club chairman John Crawford said that the difficult decision had been taken in order to avoid redundancies.


Coronavirus: Plans to temporarily end trial by jury dropped

The Scottish Government aims to pass emergency Covid-19 legislation today.

Juries: Ministers drop controversial plan.

Plans to temporarily end trial by jury have been dropped from the Scottish Government’s emergency coronavirus legislation after they provoked “deep concern” in the legal community.

Constitution secretary Michael Russell told Holyrood that ministers are withdrawing that section of the Coronavirus Scotland Bill with a view to returning to emergency reforms of the justice system at a later date.

He said postponing the measures would “allow an intensive and wide-ranging discussion by all interested parties, including victims, whose voice has not yet been fully heard, about the right way to ensure that justice continues to be done in Scotland”.

Russell said that he expected the Scottish Government to bring a “standalone Bill” back to the parliament on the next sitting day – believed to be April 21 – on how the justice system will function during the pandemic.

The emergency legislation, intended to be debated and passed in a day on Wednesday, originally proposed allowing judge-only trials for the most serious charges to “ensure that criminal justice systems can continue to operate during the coronavirus restrictions”.

The Coronavirus Scotland Bill also allows for the possible release of inmates if prisons are becoming overwhelmed by the virus, as well as protecting tenants from eviction for six months.

But human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar branded the parts of the legislation which would end trial by jury an “unacceptable attack on our justice system”, adding: “600-year jury trial before peers done away a week after lockdown.”

John Mulholland, president of the Law Society of Scotland, expressed “deep concern” at the proposal, calling it “one of the most fundamental changes to our justice system ever contemplated”.

The Faculty of Advocates’ Scottish Criminal Bar Association also opposed the plan.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats laid amendments to the Bill objecting to the proposal for trials without juries, while the Scottish Tories called jury trials “an important safeguard of human rights which we would be most reluctant to see removed”.

The Bill is slated to expire on September 30 this year, although MSPs have the option to extend the legislation for a further two six-month periods, should it be deemed necessary to do so to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak.

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