Coronavirus in Scotland RECAP: Only one in a thousand asymptomatic school Covid tests are positive, says John Swinney

Live updates on Covid-19 in Scotland, the UK, and around the world.

By Gary Flockhart
Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 6:31 am
Updated Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 1:43 pm
The latest updates on Covid-19 in Scotland.
The latest updates on Covid-19 in Scotland.

Follow along here to stay up-to-date with the latest developments on Wednesday, March 24.

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Coronavirus in Scotland LIVE: The latest updates on Wednesday, March 24

Last updated: Wednesday, 24 March, 2021, 06:16

  • Seven deaths of coronavirus patients recorded on Tuesday
  • 495 new Covid cases reported in Scotland
  • Sturgeon: Public inquiry into Covid-19 a ‘priority’

When is FMQs today? How to watch live as Nicola Sturgeon attends First Minister’s Questions at the Scottish Parliament

Closure of places of worship deemed unlawful by judge

Coronavirus regulations that force the closure of churches in Scotland and criminalise public worship have been deemed unlawful.

A group of 27 church leaders launched a judicial review at the Court of Session arguing Government ministers acted out with their powers when ordering the closure of places of worship under emergency legislation.

Judge Lord Braid issued his judgment on Wednesday, finding the Scottish Government regulations were unlawful as they disproportionately interfered with the freedom of religion secured in the European Convention on Human Rights (EHRC).

New health security agency set up to tackle future pandemics

A new organisation is being set up with the aim of halting future pandemics.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKSA) will launch on April 1, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.

He told a briefing hosted by the Local Government Association that “UKSA must plan, it must prevent and it must respond. UKSA must be ready”.

He said: “UKSA, as it will be known, will be this country’s permanent standing capacity to plan, prevent and respond to external threats to health…

“UKSA will work with partners around the world and lead the UK’s global contribution to health security research.

“Next, UKSA will be tasked to prevent external threats to health, deploying the full might of our analytic and genomic capability on infectious diseases… in all, helping to cast a protective shield over the nation’s health.

“Even after years without a major public health threat, UKSA must be ready, not just to do the science, but to respond at unbelievable pace.”

Pandemic provides chance for rethink on Scotland’s town centres, says minister

A new plan to revitalise Scotland’s town centres will be published by this autumn, the Scottish Government has said.

Communities Secretary, Aileen Campbell, said the pandemic had been challenging for town centres but also provided an opportunity to rethink the way people live, work and shop.

She was responding to a report from a review group set up to examine the Town Centre Action Plan of 2013.

A joint response to the report from the Scottish Government and Cosla, the umbrella body for Scottish councils, said it would be considered carefully and a shared delivery plan would be published by autumn 2021.

Ms Campbell said: “The Covid-19 pandemic provides a challenge to our town centres, but also an opportunity to rethink and re-energise our efforts to make towns great places to live.

“Covid-19 has changed the way we all live, work and shop, and we have to build on that to develop safe spaces that meet the diverse needs of city, country, village and island populations.

“The findings of the review group provide a strong platform to build from.

“We strongly support its overarching aim to work with our communities to transform the future of our town centres.”

Spike in pre-op patients living life ‘worse than death’ during pandemic – study

The number of patients awaiting orthopaedic surgery who are in such pain their quality of life is considered “worse than death” has spiked during the pandemic, research suggests.

A study led by the University of Edinburgh surveyed people waiting for hip and knee replacements.

It assessed 843 patients on waiting lists across the UK using EuroQol-five dimensions (EQ-5D) – a quality of life survey that includes questions on mobility, pain, and the ability to participate in daily life.

EQ-5D is scored on a scale from -0.6 to 1, where 1 is full health and 0 is considered death.

Negative scores are considered “worse than death”, with people saying they could not bear to survive in this condition.

More than a third (35%) of patients waiting for a hip replacement and 22% of patients waiting for a knee replacement rated their scores below zero, researchers found.

This was almost double figures found in a study conducted of more than 4,000 patients in Edinburgh from 2014 to 2017.

Johnson under fire over praise for ‘greed’ in vaccine development

Vaccine campaigners have accused Boris Johnson of a “warped” understanding of the crisis after he joked that “greed” and capitalism had contributed to the success of the jabs.

The Prime Minister made the comments at a private meeting of Tory MPs, but then hastily sought to backtrack as he praised AstraZeneca for supplying the Oxford vaccine at cost.

Following Mr Johnson’s comments to the 1922 Committee on Tuesday night, the Global Justice Now campaign, which is campaigning for wider international access to jabs, hit out at the Prime Minister.

The organisation’s director Nick Dearden said: “The Prime Minister will call this comment a slip of the tongue, but it’s an incredibly revealing remark.

“It shows just how warped his understanding of this crisis is.

“We have a vaccine because of massive public investment and the remarkable work of scientists at publicly-funded universities. We’ve rolled it out because of our incredible National Health Service.

“Greed, however, drove big pharma to privatise this work and withhold doses from millions worldwide to protect their profits.

“And, if Boris Johnson keeps letting it happen, there’ll be more coronavirus mutations that could send us back to square one.”

Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester and former health secretary Andy Burnham said: “Celebrating ‘greed’ in a pandemic? Same old Tories.”

Women under 50 ‘had worse long-term outcomes after Covid hospital admission’

Women under 50 and people who experienced severe disease had worse long-term outcomes following hospital admission with Covid-19 than others, according to new research.

The study found that in adults who were admitted to hospital, nearly all experienced ongoing symptoms three months or more after the onset of their Covid-19 infection.

Researchers found that women under the age of 50 had higher odds of worse long-term health outcomes when compared with men and older study participants, even if they had no previous co-morbidity.

The study, which has been published as a pre-print, found that people with more severe acute disease in hospital also had worse long-term outcomes than those who did not require oxygen.

Overall, more than half of all the participants reported not being fully recovered three months after the onset of Covid-19 symptoms.

This research is led by the University of Glasgow in collaboration with the Universities of Oxford, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Imperial College London.

Taylor Swift makes large donation to mother-of-five whose husband died of Covid

Taylor Swift and her mother have donated 50,000 dollars (£36,000) to a mother-of-five who lost her husband to Covid-19.

Theodis Ray Quarles, 48, of Memphis, Tennessee, died a week before Christmas, according to a GoFundMe page set up by a family friend.

The page had a target of 50,000 dollars to support Vickie Quarles and her five children.

A donation of that amount was made in the name of Swift, 31, and her mother Andrea, 63.

The PA news agency has confirmed it came from the singer. The fundraiser has so far raised more than 60,000 dollars (£44,000).

This is not the first time Swift, who won album of the year at the Grammy Awards earlier this month, has helped out those struggling during the pandemic.

Early in the health crisis the pop superstar gave 3,000 dollars (£2,200) each to a number of her devotees who had told of their financial problems on social media.

In August, an aspiring mathematician who lives in London thanked Swift for making her “dreams come true” after the singer donated £23,000 towards her university education.

In December she donated an on-brand 13,000 dollars (£9,500) each to two mothers experiencing difficulties due to the pandemic.

Man charged after theft of Covid-19 vaccine in Edinburgh

A man has been charged in connection with the theft of a vial of Covid-19 vaccine in Edinburgh.

Police said a 41-year-old man has been charged and a report is to be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

Officers previously said the single multi-dose vial of vaccine was stolen at around noon on Saturday from the vaccination centre on Morrison Street.

In a statement, Police Scotland said: “We want to thank you for your assistance with our appeal for information on this investigation.”

I will not be bullied out of office, Sturgeon tells Tories as she beats vote

Scotland’s First Minister has said she would have resigned had she been found to have broken the ministerial code, but said she would not be “bullied” out of her position as she defeated an attempt to oust her.

Nicola Sturgeon faced a vote of no confidence on Tuesday, brought by the Scottish Tories, who claim she misled parliament and ignored legal advice.

But the vote fell by 65 votes to 31 with 27 abstentions.

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