Nicola Sturgeon at FMQs RECAP: First Minister to face questions about Alex Salmond inquiry and lockdown easing routemap

Follow here for all coronavirus updates from Scotland, the UK and around the world.

By Beth Murray
Thursday, 25th February 2021, 1:45 pm

Nicola Sturgeon is preparing to face Parliament today in First Ministers Questions after defending her cautious plan to take Scotland out of lockdown.

She said yesterday that she will not offer a specific date for when all restrictions could be lifted, in the same way Boris Johnson has done in England, because she would be “making it up”.

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Last updated: Thursday, 25 February, 2021, 11:36

She will not “shy away” from the scrutiny that she, and the Scottish Government will be under

Nicola Sturgeon said in Parliament today that she has waited a long time to appear before the committee investigating the Scottish Government’s handling of the Alex Salmond inquiry.

She will not “shy away” from the scrutiny that she, and the Scottish Government will be under.

She said than anyone who suggests that decisions that the Crown Office takes in terms of upholding court orders is in any way politically influenced or politically driven is “just wrong”.

She said: “I would also suggest that they are signing up to a dangerous and quite diluted conspiracy theory that risks undermining the integrity, and the well deserved reputation of Scotland’s independent justice system.

“Political debate is right and proper politics should not be for the faint-hearted, but I think all of us actually have a duty to conduct those debates in a way that doesn’t unfairly trash the reputation of people who are doing their jobs, doing them independently of government.”

85 per cent of the 65 to 69 year-old population in Scotland have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine

The First Minister has said that by early March, subject to supply, they are expecting to be able to offer everyone over 50 their first dose of the vaccine.

56,661 people have received their second dose of the vaccine so far in Scotland.

As of 8.30am this morning, 1,515,980 people had received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in Scotland.

This is an increase of 27, 903 from the figure reported yesterday.

More than one and a half million have received their first dose of the vaccine to date, which Nicola Sturgeon says is a “really significant milestone”.

Scottish Government update: 769 new cases reported, 967 patients in hospital, 89 in intensive care and 31 deaths recorded in the last 24 hours. 

Almost 70,000 fines issues for Covid-19 breaches in England and Wales

Almost 70,000 fines have been handed out by police for breaches of Covid-19 laws since they came into force, with more than 6,000 issued in a single week, new figures show.

Data published by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) on Thursday shows a total of 68,952 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) were issued by forces, including 63,201 in England and 5,751 in Wales, between March 27 last year and February 14.

The report said steep rises in the number of tickets handed out following the introduction of Tier 4 restrictions before Christmas and the latest national lockdown in England on January 4 reflected a move towards quicker enforcement by police.

Cases of new coronavirus variant ‘barely’ reducing in Scotland

Speaking at Holyrood’s Covid-19 committee, Professor Mark Woolhouse, chair of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, said that the drop in cases north of the border was mainly attributable to a fall in cases of the old variant, while the number of cases of the new, so-called “Kent” variant, had “held steady”.

France have suspended training ahead of Sunday’s Guinness Six Nations game against Scotland following another positive Covid-19 test among the playing squad

Tournament chiefs gave a green light on Wednesday to the match in Paris going ahead as planned.

The Stade de France showdown had been thrown into major doubt following a Covid-19 outbreak among Les Bleus players and management.

The go-ahead followed a fresh round of negative results, but latest developments will inevitably put the fixture in jeopardy again.

In a statement, the French Rugby Federation said: “Following the RT-PCR tests carried out this Wednesday, February 24 in the evening, and the appearance of a positive case within the squad of players, the FFR medical committee met this morning and decided to suspend training this day.

“The entire group is in isolation in accordance with health protocol.

“The FFR is in close contact with the Six Nations committee.”

Johnson & Johnson single dose Covid vaccine found to be safe and effective

The latest findings from Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine trials found the jab to be safe and effective, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said.

The vaccine’s effectiveness varied in different countries, with 72 per cent efficacy in the United States, 66 per cent in Latin America, and 57 per cent in South Africa - where a new variant has spread.

However, the FDA said that the vaccine was 85 per cent effective overall in stopping severe cases of Covid-19.

More than 150,000 Scots NHS staff to get ‘interim’ 1% pay rise

More than 150,000 employees in the Scottish NHS will be given an ‘interim’ 1 per cent pay rise, with Health Secretary Jeane Freeman saying it comes amid the “sustained pressure” they have been under during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms Freeman said while formal pay negotiations had been impacted by the delay to the UK Government Budget, the Scottish Government will give staff an interim 1% “payment on account” – which will be backdated to December 2020.

The move will benefit some 154,000 NHS employees with contracts under the Agenda for Change system, including all nurses, paramedics, healthcare support staff and allied health professionals, such as occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

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