Coronavirus in Scotland LIVE: Vaccines and surge testing are part of a ‘package of interventions’ in the future, says expert

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

By Katharine Hay
Thursday, 15th April 2021, 10:37 am
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Coronavirus in Scotland LIVE: Vaccines and surge testing are part of a ‘package of interventions’ in the future, says expert

Last updated: Thursday, 15 April, 2021, 11:42

  • Majority of people with relatives in care home endured mental distress – study
  • Covid deaths in Scotland officially more than 10,000
  • Vaccines and surge testing are part of a ‘package of interventions’ in the future

Nicola Sturgeon said she will do ‘everything I possibly can’ to make sure impact of Covid-19 is not felt by young people in the future

Speaking at the launch of the SNP’s manifesto on Thursday, Ms Sturgeon said: “I promise the young people of Scotland that I will do everything I possibly can to make sure you do not carry the legacy of this pandemic into your adult lives.”

She went on to pledge to further extend childcare to one and two-year -olds, provide tablets or laptops and internet connections to schoolchildren and to extend free school meals.

She added that funding for the Scottish Attainment Challenge, funding provided direct to schools to close the poverty-related attainment gap, would increase to £1 billion over the next five years, if the SNP is re-elected.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Government has ‘learned from experience’ during the pandemic

The Scottish Government made mistakes in its response to Covid-19, Nicola Sturgeon has said, but they have “learned from experience”.

Launching the SNP’s election manifesto, the First Minister said: “A year ago, we had to act fast without the knowledge we have now about this virus – and without the benefit of the hindsight we have today.

“I know we didn’t get every decision right.

“But we have done our level best.

“And we have learned from experience.

“It is that combination of commitment and experience that I believe is so vital for these times.”

Majority of people with relatives in care home endured mental distress – study

Three in four people with loved ones in care homes have suffered mental distress due to Covid-19 restrictions, a study has indicated.

Relatives unable to visit and hug family in retirement homes endured a “range of negative emotions” which were “severe and often went unrecognised”, according to researchers.

The study team – led by the University of Edinburgh – is arguing for indoor visits for family and friends to be permitted if the isolation is “severely affecting residents”, and routine outdoor socially distant visits, if local restrictions allow.

Researchers conducted 36 in-depth interviews with family carers, held conversations with care staff, and completed a nationwide online survey of people with family in homes. They received 444 responses across 31 out of 32 local authorities in Scotland.

They found 76% of respondents experienced mental distress due to Covid restrictions, which was higher among relatives on average if they did not feel well-informed by care staff.

They added: “Most policy makers and key figures in the sector had shown only a superficial understanding of lockdown’s impact on families.

“Respondents said there had been little acknowledgement of family as partners in providing care and a failure to fully understand the importance of that relationship.”

Lead researcher Dr George Palattiyil, of the University of Edinburgh, said: “It’s likely that the impact of relatives being unable to visit will be felt for years to come, especially in cases where a loved one died or became seriously ill.”

The paper added that because the care sector has public, private and third sector providers, it is “difficult to implement national guidance in a consistent, equitable and appropriate manner”.

The research team also involved the University of the West of Scotland, the University of Strathclyde and the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services.

When will pubs, bars and restaurants reopen in Scotland? Date hospitality may reopen in lockdown roadmap

When restrictions lift on 26 April, there will still be significant rules regarding alcohol, opening times and dining in and outdoors.

When could pubs and restaurants reopen?

The First Minister has stated that hospitality could resume from 26 April, as Scotland’s coronavirus infection rates reach lows not seen since September last year.

In March, she said: “The hospitality sector will begin to reopen from 26 April.”

Read more here for the latest information on hospitality restrictions easing.

Analysis: Why is Covid third wave still a risk after vaccination programme?

Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at Edinburgh University, told a conference held by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh on Wednesday that Covid-19 is “here to stay” and that Scotland should prepare for a third wave in the autumn.

This is mostly around uncertainty about the effect of the vaccines we have.

Read more by our health correspondent Elsa Maishmanhere.

Vaccines and surge testing are part of a ‘package of interventions’ in the future

London’s regional director of Public Health England said vaccines and surge testing are part of a “package of interventions” for managing life with coronavirus in future.

“As we begin to recirculate in society, we want to encourage everybody to get vaccinated,” Professor Kevin Fenton told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“That certainly gives us additional protection. But we need to continue to practise our preventive measures, and we need to do the surge testing if we find variants in order to contain them.

“These are the package of interventions that we will need to be getting used to as we enter this new normal of living with Covid and managing our lives with Covid for the near future.”

Assessing the “garlic-breath distance” can indicate whether someone is close enough to another person for coronavirus transmission to occur, an expert has said.

Dr Julian Tang is a consultant virologist at the Leicester Royal Infirmary and author of a new study published in the British Medical Journal that urges governments and health leaders to “focus their efforts on airborne transmission”.

Appearing on Sky News he was asked if a previous focus on hand washing and sanitising was “wrong”.

Dr Tang said: “I think the emphasis is wrong. So the message ‘hands, face, space’, we think should be really ‘space, space, hands’.

“The way this virus transmits is really through conversational distance, within one metre.

“When you’re talking to a friend or sharing the same air as you’re listening to your friend talking, we call it the garlic-breath distance.

“So if you can smell your friend’s lunch you’re inhaling some of that air as well as any virus that’s inhaled with it.

“And this is why we say that masking is fine, social distancing is fine, but the indoor airborne environment needs to be improved and that can be done with ventilation.”

Gordon Brown among former world leaders urging US President to waive patents on Covid vaccines

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown is among a group of former world leaders and Nobel laureates calling on US President Joe Biden to waive intellectual property rules for Covid vaccines to accelerate global access to the jabs.

Mr Brown is one of 175 former government heads and leading thinkers to co-sign an open letter to Mr Biden which says they are “gravely concerned” by the slow progress in making Covid vaccines readily available to people in low and middle income countries.

The letter, which also includes former French president Francois Hollande and Nobel laureate Professor Joseph Stiglitz among its signatories, urges the president to support a proposal from the South African and Indian governments at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to temporarily waive intellectual property rights related to Covid-19 vaccines and treatments.

This would allow for an urgently needed “scale up” in the manufacturing and supply of vaccines around the world.

The letter says a small number of countries, including the US, UK and EU, are currently blocking the move.

It states: “A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly.

“These actions would expand global manufacturing capacity, unhindered by industry monopolies that are driving the dire supply shortages blocking vaccine access.

“Nine in 10 people in most poor countries may well go without a vaccine this year. At this pace, many nations will be left waiting until at least 2024 to achieve mass Covid-19 immunisation, despite what the limited, while welcome, Covax initiative is able to offer.”

Mr Brown said the waiver should be accompanied by a “global multi-year burden sharing plan to finance vaccines for the poorest countries”.

He added: “President Biden has said that no-one is safe until everyone is safe, and now with the G7 ahead there is an unparalleled opportunity to provide the leadership that only the US can provide and that hastens an end to the pandemic for the world.

“This would be in the strategic interests of the US, and of every country on the planet.”

Consistency in Scottish Government led to more Covid-19 trust, expert says

Consistency in Scottish Government messaging has seen more trust in following Covid-19 guidelines than in England, according to an expert adviser.

Professor of Public Health at Edinburgh University Linda Bauld said key differences between the approaches of Nicola Sturgeon’s and Boris Johnson’s administrations during the pandemic had contributed to changes in confidence.

The academic had been giving a presentation for the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh on Wednesday where she outlined how effective public messaging had been during the pandemic.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Prof Bauld said: “We have a First Minister – and this isn’t a political point – who is generally popular in the country, that has contributed and been very present throughout the pandemic.

“The daily briefings have been much more consistent, so people have known when they are taking place.

“The slogans have not chopped and changed much in Scotland, although they have changed recently.”

Good morning, and welcome to our live blog for Thursday, 15 April.

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