LiveCoronavirus in Scotland RECAP: 68 more deaths recorded as Covid cases surge by 2,039 across the country
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Coronavirus in Scotland LIVE: The latest updates on Wednesday, January 6
Last updated: Wednesday, 06 January, 2021, 14:16
- 2,039 new coronavirus cases reported on Wednesday
- 68 additional Covid deaths registered in past 24 hours
- Phased return of schools possible, First Minister says
- Scottish health board just 12 patients away from breaching Covid-19 capacity
Coronavirus in Scotland: 68 further deaths and 2,039 new cases
Scotland has recorded 68 deaths of coronavirus patients and 2,039 new cases in the past 24 hours, according to official figures.
The death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – is now 4,701.
Scottish Government statistics indicate the daily test positivity rate is 10.5%, down from 14.8% on Tuesday, when 2,529 positive cases were recorded.
A total of 141,066 people have tested positive in Scotland since the start of the pandemic.
There are 1,384 people in hospital confirmed to have Covid-19, up 25 in 24 hours.
Of these patients, 68 are in intensive care, down 25 in the same period.
‘Schools have not suddenly become unsafe’, says Education Secretary
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs “schools have not suddenly become unsafe”.
In a statement, he told the Commons: “The last thing any education secretary wants to do is announce that schools will close, and this is not a decision that the Government ever wanted to take.
“I’d like to reassure everyone that our schools have not suddenly become unsafe, but limiting the number of people who attend them is essential when the Covid rates are climbing as they are now.
“We must curb the escalating cases of Covid throughout the country and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed.
“That is why today I am setting out the contingency plans I had prepared but had hoped (I would) never had to implement.”
Prime Minister told to close UK borders to ‘all but essential travel’
The UK’s borders should be closed to “all but essential travel” to prevent new strains of Covid spreading, the SNP has said.
Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, made the plea after warning the UK Government must “act in a timely manner” to respond to the pandemic.
He told the Commons: “Nobody would say that this Prime Minister is one step ahead of tomorrow or acts and shows leadership in dealing with this health pandemic.
“The PM was slow to act in the spring of 2020, slow in the autumn and here again, reacts after the events to the threats that we all face.
“On travel, is the Prime Minister prepared to learn from his Government’s past mistakes?
“Will he consider closing the UK border to all but essential travel to prevent new strains of the virus spreading?”
European regulators recommend Moderna Covid-19 jab
European health officials have recommended the use of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended granting a conditional marketing authorisation for the jab for adults.
British regulators – the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency – are still conducting a review on the vaccine.
Emer Cooke, executive director of EMA said: “This vaccine provides us with another tool to overcome the current emergency.
“It is a testament to the efforts and commitment of all involved that we have this second positive vaccine recommendation just short of a year since the pandemic was declared by WHO (World Health Organisation).
“As for all medicines, we will closely monitor data on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine to ensure ongoing protection of the EU public.
“Our work will always be guided by the scientific evidence and our commitment to safeguard the health of EU citizens.”
The decision comes just days after the end of the Brexit transition period.
Greggs set to post first loss in 82-year history
High street bakery chain Greggs has warned it expects to post the first ever loss in its history due to the coronavirus pandemic and will not see profits recover until at least 2022.
The Newcastle-based group – which recently axed more than 800 jobs amid the crisis – said it is braced for annual pre-tax losses of up to £15 million, against profits of £108.3 million the previous year.
It will mark the first loss since it was founded more than 80 years ago and comes after sales have been hammered by the pandemic and lockdowns across the UK.
Greggs – which has 2,078 shops – saw like-for-like sales fall by nearly a fifth over its fourth quarter to January 2, running at 81% of year-earlier levels.
Greggs said total sales for the year slumped by nearly a third – 31% – to £811 million.
Researchers claim ‘world’s first’ coronavirus vaccine patch
The world’s first coronavirus vaccine “smart patch” is being developed in Wales, researchers have said.
The device, which works like a nicotine patch, is designed to allow patients to self-administer the vaccine before being able to monitor their body’s response to it.
The small patch will use tiny microneedles, which are measured in millionths of a metre, to break the skin barrier of a patient and deliver the vaccine in a less invasive way than a traditional hypodermic needle.
The device simultaneously measures a patient’s inflammatory response to the vaccination by monitoring biomarkers in the skin while being held in place on their arm with tape or a strap.
The real-time measuring of the vaccine’s effectiveness is hoped to speed up the containment of future Covid-19 outbreaks.
Researchers at Swansea University say the devices would be easy to distribute and low-cost to manufacture, with scope to expand the work to apply to other infectious diseases in the future.
Glasgow University science hub established to screen Covid-19 drugs
A £2.5 million science hub is to be established at the University of Glasgow to screen treatments for Covid-19.
Crush (Covid-19 Drug-Screening and Resistance Hub) will investigate promising drugs for the virus.
It will also provide drug screening for other dangerous and deadly viruses in its high containment facilities.
Scientists at the hub will look to identify any possible drug and immune-resistant virus variants.
Research charity LifeArc has given £2 million to the project, with additional funds provided by the Medical Research Council.
It will be based at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR) in partnership with the University of Dundee Drug Discovery Unit.
‘Very little data’ to back 12-week delay for second Pfizer jab – WHO
There is “very little data” to underpin the UK’s recommendation to delay the second dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 jab for up to 12 weeks, global health leaders have said.
The second dose of the vaccine should only be delayed for up to six weeks, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
WHO experts met to discuss policy recommendations for the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Tuesday.
Alejandro Cravioto, chair of the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation – also known as Sage but not to be confused with the British Sage group of scientists – said that in “exceptional” circumstances the second dose of the vaccine could be delayed.
The group concluded that it could be delayed for up to six weeks, which was the “outer limit” observed in the clinical trials for the vaccine.
Nicola Sturgeon coronavirus briefing: No lunchtime update from First Minister, here’s how the latest daily figures for Scotland will be announced instead
Nicola Sturgeon briefing: No lunchtime update, here’s how latest daily figures for Scotland will be announced instead
There will be no lunchtime coronavirus briefing from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Wednesday.
‘Real risk’ of Covid-19 vaccinations falling because of delay to second jab
Doctors leaders in Scotland have voiced concerns about UK plans to delay giving people the second doze of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, claiming the move could cause a drop in the number of vaccinations in coming weeks.
Dr Lewis Morrison, chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA) Scotland, said there was “clearly disagreement” among experts on the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine, with the second injection now due to be given 12 weeks after the first.
It was originally planned that people would be given the two doses three weeks apart, but with the UK struggling to deal with the faster spreading strain of Covid-19, leaders have opted to try to get more people their first dose.
Fraudsters target the vulnerable with fake messages offering vaccines
People in the UK should be wary of fraudulent messages offering them access to coronavirus vaccinations, trading standards authorities have warned.
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) said that text messages had been sent out including links to fake NHS websites that asked recipients for bank details, supposedly for verification purposes.
Such messages were first reported at the end of December on the Western Isles of Scotland, but the CTSI says they are “by no means limited to the region”.
It comes as the Government announced a target of vaccinating 14 million people in the highest priority groups by February 15.
Huge fall in new car sales last year, figures show
The number of new cars sold in the UK last year fell by almost a third amid the coronavirus crisis and uncertainty over Brexit, figures show.
New car registrations dropped to just over 1.6 million, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which warned of a “rocky” few months ahead.
The trade organisation said a 10.9% decline in December wrapped up a “turbulent” 12 months, which saw demand fall by 680,076 units to the lowest level of registrations since 1992.
New car sales fell by around 29% on 2019, the biggest year-on-year decline since 1943.
New Covid-19 variant less easy to control through lockdown – expert
The new variant of Covid-19 will not be as easy to control through lockdown as the old variant, an infectious diseases expert has warned.
Professor Mark Woolhouse said that people should temper expectations about the impact of the current lockdown and that simply stopping the situation getting any worse “would be a good outcome.”
Lockdown measures have been imposed across the UK to combat the further spread of the new, more infectious strain of the virus.
Prof Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, said it is too early to tell what the impact of the new measures will be.
He told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “It should be about a week before we see the immediate impact on cases. We have to be careful here and temper expectations.
“The new variant is not going to be as easy to control as the old variant, the one that was controlled by the lockdown in March, so we’ll have to wait and see whether it’s actually a decrease in cases or simply stopping the situation getting worse, stopping there being any further increase, and that, at this point in time, would be a good outcome.
“The epidemiologists are in two minds. Some people say that the schools being out will decrease the number of cases but some have said the Christmas holidays will have increased them so I’m afraid we’re going to have to wait and see for a couple of weeks before we know clearly what the trends are.
“What we have to be prepared for, as Nicola Sturgeon has said, is the fact that this is going to go on for some time yet.”
Students arrive on Scottish campuses as uncertainty swirls around universities and Covid-19
University students have begun the process of returning to campuses across Scotland despite uncertainty around whether they should return at all.
Greggs warns profits will not recover until at least 2022 as pandemic hits sales
High street bakery chain Greggs has said it is set to slump to an annual loss and warned profits will not recover until at least 2022 as the pandemic hammers sales.
The Newcastle-based group – which recently axed more than 800 jobs amid the coronavirus crisis – said like-for-like sales fell by nearly a fifth over its fourth quarter to January 2, running at 81% of year-earlier levels.
Greggs said total sales for the year slumped by nearly a third – 31% – to £811 million.
The group said it is braced for annual pre-tax losses of up to £15 million, against profits of £108.3 million the previous year, though it said the hit was contained thanks to Government support.