Covid Scotland RECAP: Holiday hopes dashed as no countries added to green travel list | Nicola Sturgeon has ‘full confidence’ in exams body | Douglas Ross brands plans for pupil assessments a ‘shambles’ | Anas Sarwar calls for Scottish Covid inquiry into ‘avoidable deaths’

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

By Gary Flockhart
Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 8:07 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 1:50 pm

Scroll down to see the latest news on the pandemic on Thursday, June 3.

The latest updates on Covid-19 in Scotland and beyond.

Covid Scotland: The latest updates on Thursday, June 3

Last updated: Thursday, 03 June, 2021, 13:44

  • Nicola Sturgeon insists she has full confidence in the SQA
  • Boris Johnson to chair four-nation coronavirus recovery summit
  • No countries added to green travel list

Experts monitor variants as 10 children admitted to hospital ‘because of Covid’

Experts are assessing whether new Covid variants are having more impact on children after 10 youngsters aged nine and under were admitted to hospital last week.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said not many children have been admitted to hospital during the pandemic but the number currently in hospital is “on the high side”.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said on Wednesday that 10 children aged zero to nine were admitted to hospital last week “because of Covid”.

Mr Swinney, who is also Covid Recovery Secretary, said experts will be trying to determine whether there is something in the new variants that are emerging that is making it more acutely challenging for children with a greater impact on their health.

He told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland: “If you go back over the last 12 months, relatively few children have been hospitalised as a consequence of Covid so we’re now seeing obviously a concentration of hospitalisation outwith the over-50s group because the overwhelming majority of that group are vaccinated and have some protection.

“There are still some people being hospitalised with the vaccine.”

The public should “exercise their common sense” about travelling abroad, a Home Office minister has said.

Asked on Times Radio whether her department would rather people stayed in the UK, Victoria Atkins said: “We’re very, very, very supportive of the traffic light system. There are some countries in the world at the moment that because of the variants and the rates of infection are simply too dangerous for us to visit in terms of Covid, and of course they are on the red list.

“We then have the amber list which we very much ask people not to travel to unless there are very particular, very dire consequences they’re having to deal with, such as a dying relative, and then the green list.

“And look, the overall goal, we all want to get back to normality, pre-pandemic normality. But I think all understand we’ve got to take careful steps to do that. And so the travel plan and travel lists are very much part of our road map out of lockdown restrictions, but we do have to look at the data.

“We do have to look at what is happening elsewhere in the world, in order to help advise the public as to what is allowed and what is not allowed. But as with anything, we’re asking the public to exercise their common sense and that is the way that we’re going to be able to return to normality.”

Campaigners call on G7 to tackle global vaccine inequalities

Campaigners are calling on G7 leaders to take action to close the coronavirus vaccine gap between their nations and poorer countries ahead of a meeting of health ministers.

The People’s Vaccine Alliance said that more than a million people have died with Covid-19 since the G7 leaders last met in February, where the politicians made pledges to increase global supplies.

The campaign group, which includes Health Justice Initiative, Oxfam, and Unaids, calculated that people living in G7 countries were 77 times more likely to be offered a vaccine than those living in the world’s poorest countries.

It claims that between them, the G7 were vaccinating at a rate of 4.6 million people a day in May, meaning everyone living in these nations should be fully vaccinated by 8 January 2022 if this rate continues.

However, at the current rate – vaccinating 63,000 people a day – the alliance said it would take low income countries some 57 years for everyone to be fully vaccinated.

The People’s Vaccine Alliance is now urging G7 leaders to “stop making empty promises and protecting the interests of pharmaceutical companies” and to take action to address vaccine inequalities worldwide.

The alliance is calling for G7 leaders to collectively back intellectual property rights on vaccines being waived so that production can be ramped up globally, a proposal supported by the US.

The calls come ahead of Thursday’s UK-hosted G7 health ministers’ meeting, where Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to meet counterparts from the US, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, Italy and the EU.

Leaders from the G7 group of leading industrialised nations will then meet for a summit in Cornwall next week, where recovery from the pandemic is likely to be on the agenda.

Travel list changes expected as holidaymakers await to see impact of variants

Holidaymakers are bracing themselves for changes to the Government’s travel list, amid concerns over the impact of Covid-19 variants on summer plans.

Ministers are predicted to update the traffic light destination system on Thursday, which could see countries moving between the green, amber and red lists.

On Wednesday, Boris Johnson warned the Government will have “no hesitation” over moving countries off the green list if necessary, and said it will “wait and see” what the recommendations of the Joint Biosecurity Centre are before announcing changes to the travel lists.

People returning to the UK from green locations are not required to self-isolate, and only need to take one post-arrival coronavirus test.

Travellers returning from amber list locations – which includes popular hotspots such as Spain, France, Italy and Greece – must quarantine at home for 10 days and take two post-arrival tests, while there is a travel ban to red list countries.

The Prime Minister said: “We are going to try and allow people to travel as I know many people want to, but we’ve got to be cautious.

“We’ve got to continue to put countries on the red list, on the amber list, when that is necessary.

“We will have no hesitation in moving countries from the green list to the amber list to the red list if we have to do so.

“The priority is to continue the vaccine rollout to protect the people of this country.”

Covid Scotland: What coronavirus level is Edinburgh in and what are the rules

On Tuesday, the First Minister laid out which levels Scotland will be in for the next month.

Former MI6 head says virus lab leak evidence has likely been destroyed

vidence of any lab leak that may have caused the coronavirus pandemic will have been destroyed by Chinese officials by now, a former MI6 chief has said.

Sir Richard Dearlove, who headed the secret intelligence service between 1999 and 2004, said it would now be difficult to prove the Wuhan Institute of Virology was working on experiments to make a coronavirus that would be more deadly to humans.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph’s Planet Normal podcast, he also said the West had been naive in trusting China, which had infiltrated scientific institutions and journals in the UK and elsewhere.

Sir Richard said it was possible Chinese scientists who wanted to speak out about any coronavirus experiments had been “silenced”.

“The People’s Republic of China is a pretty terrifying regime and does some things we consider unacceptable and extreme in silencing opposition to the official line of the government,” he said.

“We don’t know that’s what’s happened, but a lot of data have probably been destroyed or made to disappear so it’s going to be difficult to prove definitely the case for a ‘gain of function chimera’ being the cause of the pandemic.”

Antibiotic use ‘very high’ in Covid-19 hospital patients during first wave

Antibiotic use was “very high” among Covid-19 hospital patients in the UK during the first wave of the pandemic, even though confirmed bacterial infections were rare, scientists have found.

Antibiotics are medicines used to treat some types of bacterial infections and do not work on viral diseases, such as Covid-19.

New analysis, published in the journal The Lancet Microbe, shows that, between February 6 and June 8 2020, 85% of coronavirus patients received one or more antibiotics during their hospital stay, while 37% were prescribed the drugs prior to admission.

It suggests many ill Covid-19 patients who did not have a bacterial infection were being unnecessarily treated with medicines that kill bacteria.

The scientists say that giving antibiotics to Covid-19 patients who do not have a bacterial co-infection risks worsening global antimicrobial resistance – which occurs when bacteria no longer respond to the drugs made to kill them.

They recommend that antibiotic use should be more evidence-based (known as antimicrobial stewardship), while adding that medics should restrict prescribing these drugs unless tests confirm a bacterial infection.

Study author Dr Antonia Ho, of the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, said: “Our findings are in no way a criticism of the NHS clinicians.

“During the first wave, there was huge uncertainty as this is a new disease (and) patients were very sick – a lot of patients were in critical care.

“We did not have very many options in terms of effective treatments and, (based on) how sick patients were, I think it was a sensible thing to do (prescribe antibiotics) at the time.”

Boris Johnson to chair four-nation coronavirus recovery summit

Boris Johnson will chair a coronavirus recovery summit with the leaders of the devolved nations on Thursday afternoon.

The rearranged meeting was due to take place last week but was postponed after the first ministers of Wales and Scotland pulled out because they wanted it to be a “meaningful discussion with substantive outcomes”.

Both Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford subsequently wrote to the Prime Minister asking for more substance and clarity about the summit.

Ahead of the summit, the Scottish First Minister has called on the UK Government to extend furlough again – and ensure pre-existing inequalities are not further exacerbated by the crisis.

Ms Sturgeon said: “We have done everything we can with the limited powers we have to tackle inequality and mitigate the impact the pandemic has had on people’s livelihoods, but we cannot allow that to be eroded as we enter the next phase of living with the virus.

“A return to the pre-pandemic austerity would be disastrous for jobs, for public services and for people and families across Scotland.

“As the UK Government hold the key financial levers to help us recover from this, I will be calling on it to commit to maintain public spending during the period of recovery, and to extend the furlough scheme for as long as it is needed to protect businesses and people who have been required to stop working to protect others, and I will be emphasising that it is managed sensitively in a way that supports longer-term recovery.

“I’ve been given assurances that this will be a meaningful discussion, and it must be. Working to recover from Covid cannot be a PR exercise – it must be a collaborative process that properly respects the devolution settlement.

“The Scottish Government requires certainty over funding. Without it, people across Scotland who have had to endure so much these past 14 months would lack the reassurance that their jobs are protected, and their public services will continue to be funded to an appropriate level, whatever the virus has in store – that is the bare minimum of our expectations.

“For this summit to be in any way productive, all UK nations must work collaboratively. As part of that, the UK Government needs to ensure meaningful engagement with the devolved administrations on the negotiation and governance of trade deals, and to respect the devolved Parliaments by not diverting money to be spent by UK ministers.”

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