Coronavirus in Scotland RECAP

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Nicola Sturgeon remains optimistic that Scotland can enter phase two of lockdown easing on Thursday, which will again, loosen some of the guidelines, allowing pub outside areas to open up and some families to meet indoors.

Education Secretary John Swinney has said that it is ‘unlikely’ that schools will return to normal next year.

Coronavirus in Scotland LIVE

Coronavirus in Scotland LIVE: Latest updates on COVID-19 in Scotland

Key Events

  • Schools in Scotland ’unlikely’ to return to normal next year said John Swinney
  • Nicola Surgeon remains ’optimistic’ that the country can enter phase two on Thursday
  • Edinburgh Festival gets Scottish Government cash lifeline so it can return next year
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Scottish schools ‘unlikely’ to return to normal next year, John Swinney says

Mr Swinney said that social distancing measures were likely to be needed well into the next school year, meaning pupils might not be able to return to class more than a couple of days a week.

The Scottish Government announced plans to reopen schools on August 11 with a "blended" learning model, which would see pupils spend up to half of their time learning from home.

Speaking on Politics Scotland on Sunday, John Swinney said he could not say how long the blended model would be in place, adding the measures will not be in place "for a minute longer than is necessary".

Shops in England as rule in mandatory face coverings come into force

Thousands of non-essential shops across England are reopening their doors to customers for the first time in almost three months in the latest easing of the coronavirus lockdown rules.

Zoos and safari parks are also welcoming back visitors, places of worship can open for private prayer while some secondary school pupils will begin returning to their classrooms.

At the same time passengers on public transport will be required to wear face coverings as the pace of activity begins to pick up.

With official figures showing the economy shrank by a fifth in April, ministers are desperate to get businesses going again to stave off another wave of job losses.

Boris Johnson said he did not know whether to expect "a flood or a trickle" when the shops reopened but that he hoped people would return in "sensible" numbers.

China braced for coronavirus resurgence amid fresh cases

China's capital is braced for a resurgence of coronavirus after more than 100 new cases were reported in recent days in a city that had not seen a case of local transmission in more than a month.

China, where the virus first appeared late last year, reported 49 new coronavirus cases on Monday, 36 of them in Beijing.

All have been traced to a wholesale market that supplies much of the city's meat and vegetables.

Beijing has closed the Xinfadi market, ordered testing of all its workers and is requiring anyone who travelled there to self-isolate for two weeks.

Chinese health authorities said the strain of virus was similar to that seen in Europe, but there was no immediate evidence of a connection.

In response, Beijing has suspended the restart of some classes and reversed the relaxation of some social isolation measures.

Neighbourhoods close to the market have been put on lockdown and more than 76,000 people tested.

China's authoritarian communist political system and tight social controls enable tracking of residents' movements through the use of social media.

Coronavirus: 'Keep careful approach and we could return to normality sooner than expected'

At the daily briefing on Covid-19, Nicola Sturgeon said that, despite falling numbers of cases and deaths in hospital and ICU admissions reported every day, caution should be exercised to ensure that lockdown measures do not have to be reimposed.

On Thursday, the First Minister is expected to announce a move to the second phase of the route map out of lockdown.

Queues as stores reopen in England for the first time since March lockdown

Queues have formed at stores across England as thousands of non-essential shops pulled up their shutters for the first time since March.

Customers are being encouraged to go out and spend but to "be sensible" in their approach, as the Government seeks to begin reopening the economy "gradually and carefully".

Long lines were seen at Primark stores across the country, with dozens of keen shoppers waiting outside branches of the budget clothes store in Birmingham, Derby, Liverpool and Nottingham.

Small business minister Paul Scully insisted it is safe to shop, noting the new looks many stores will have as they attempt to ensure social distancing and good hygiene among staff and customers.

He told BBC Breakfast: "The high street is going to be a different place to what it was before, with the one-way systems, with the hand sanitisers, and with people not trying clothes on in the same way.

"But, nonetheless, it is safe to shop. I would encourage people to be sensible, work with the people in the shop but do go out and shop, and start opening our economy gradually and carefully.

The two-metre social-distancing rules will not be dropped in schools - despite "no evidence" of coronavirus spreading in education hubs, John Swinney has said.

Scotland's Education Secretary said the social-distancing guidelines that mean fewer pupils in schools at one time were to protect children, adults and the community from coronavirus.

Education hubs were set up in the wake of schools closing for the most vulnerable pupils and children of key workers, and Mr Swinney said he has not seen any evidence of Covid-19 spreading throughout these sites.

The Scottish Government announced plans to reopen schools on August 11 with a "blended" learning model, which would see pupils spend at least half of their time learning from home.

In response to a suggestion that the two-metre rule could be reduced in schools, Mr Swinney said the government does not want to do anything that could jeopardise the "reducing prevalence" of coronavirus in Scotland.

Speaking on the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme, he said: "So the two-metre rule has been applied based on scientific advice to protect us against the spread of coronavirus which is the absolutely essential strategic priority of the government - to avoid any resumption or recirculation of the virus, and that applies in all walks of life.

"I know there is great debate about the prevalence of coronavirus and its spread amongst young people, but young people aren't the only people that are in schools.

"There are plenty of adults in schools, and there's plenty of adults surrounding schools in the transit of getting pupils to and from schools, so we can't just view schools as just gatherings of young people that are essentially apart from the wider community."

Asked whether teachers and young people have been getting ill from coronavirus at the education hubs, Mr Swinney said: "There's no evidence of that I'm aware of, and obviously we see in general in Scotland a reducing prevalence of coronavirus, which is happening while the hubs are on operating.

"But it's happening because of the measures that we have in place; the requirements that we're putting on people in relation to physical distancing and the other hygiene measures."

Amid concern about whether children in schools will actually comply with social distancing, he added: "We have to make sure that physical distancing becomes something that we are accustomed to as a society and it has to be applied.

"Our schools are designing their approaches to how they can welcome pupils back in, consistent with those physical distancing requirements.

"Classes, for example, will have to involve a smaller number of pupils, there will have to be fewer pupils in schools at given times to make sure that we are following the physical distancing requirements and therefore reducing the possibility of further spread of the virus as a consequence."

Glasgow hospital's design increased risk of infection, report finds

Certain aspects of the design, build, commissioning and maintenance of a flagship hospital have increased the risk of infections, a review has found.

The report on the £842 million Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow found adult and child cancer patients "have been exposed to risk that could have been lower" but said failures had not led to "avoidable deaths".

The review was ordered by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman following the deaths of three patients between December 2018 and February 2019.

An adult and a child died after they contracted cryptococcus, an infection linked to pigeon droppings, while another adult died after contracting fungal infection Mucor at the hospital.

The independent review found no sound evidence that avoidable deaths have resulted from failures in the design, build, commissioning or maintenance of the QEUH and Royal Hospital for Children (RHC) which is part of the campus.

But it said patients, staff and visitors who are vulnerable due to immuno-suppression or who are in proximity to patients with certain highly infectious communicable diseases have been exposed to "risk that could have been lower if the correct design, build and commissioning had taken place".

The review, led by Dr Andrew Fraser and Dr Brian Montgomery, found the hospital was not built, finished and handed over in a manner that took full account of the specific needs of vulnerable patients.

Dr Fraser said: "While the hospital provides a safe healthcare environment for patients, staff and visitors, as the review progressed our findings caused us to focus on those clinical places caring for children and adults with cancers including leukaemia.

"These specific groups have been exposed to risk that could have been lower if the correct design, build and commissioning had taken place.

"The series of problems and influences that we have identified through the phases of the QEUH project has disrupted treatment for defined groups of patients, meant additional workload for Infection Prevention and Control teams, many clinical groups and hospital management, and diverted resources and attention from the running of this large and complex facility."

The authors said they took the view that in the design, construction and commissioning of QEUH, the client and construction contractors set out to comply with "standards consistent with a more conventional hospital" and should have taken greater account of the needs of all potential patients including those in the high risk groups such as severely immuno-compromised patients.

An independent review by Health Protection Scotland (HPS) into the water supply confirmed contamination of the system in 2018.

Scottish Government update: No new deaths from coronavirus - though the First Minister warns that there is always a delay in recording deaths over the weekend.

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