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Coronavirus in Scotland LIVE: The latest updates on Tuesday, April 20
Last updated: Tuesday, 20 April, 2021, 12:08
- Scotland’s lockdown restrictions to ease on Monday
- Scotland records further 178 Covid cases on Tuesday
- Two further Covid-19 deaths registered
Quarter of council workers sought help for mental health, survey suggests
More than a quarter of local government workers in Scotland have sought medical help for mental health issues in the past year, a trade union survey has indicated.
More than 12,000 Unison members working across Scotland’s councils were asked about the pandemic’s toll on their health over the past year, with eight in 10 saying their stress levels had risen.
Respondents included care workers, school support staff, social workers and housing staff among others, said Unison Scotland.
The findings “lay bare the enormous sacrifices these workers have made to keep our services going” and they need support to “provide them with the reward and recognition that they deserve”, said the union’s head of local government, Johanna Baxter.
The survey also indicates that six in 10 workers had to do more work than usual and more than a third said they had lost annual leave due to work pressure.
Some 27% said they had sought professional help over their mental health in the past year.
Ms Baxter said in a statement: “These findings should be deeply troubling for local authorities across Scotland.
“This report lays bare the enormous sacrifices these workers have made to keep our services going – forgoing their own annual leave, coming into work even when they have suffered bereavements themselves and adapting to changes in the workplace and their own roles.
“Urgent action is needed right now to support these frontline workers and provide them with the reward and recognition that they deserve.”
One in seven Scottish adults experiencing data poverty, study finds
Almost one in seven adults are experiencing data poverty and are unable to afford the online or mobile access they need, according to a new study.
Research from innovation agency Nesta found that 14% of people in Scotland are not able to afford sufficient private and secure mobile or broadband data to meet essential needs.
More than a quarter (26%) of adults earning less than £20,000 per year identified as experiencing data poverty.
Researchers also found that those living in more deprived areas were more likely to identify as data poor (18%) than those living in more affluent areas (7%).
The research found that Covid-19 has heightened problems as before the pandemic public wi-fi offered a safety net, with one in five people experiencing data poverty regularly using wi-fi in public libraries.
Researchers said that Covid-19 restrictions have resulted in the loss of public wi-fi accessed via shops, public transport, libraries and leisure facilities, reducing use of sources of public wi-fi by as much as a third of the pre-pandemic level.
First Covid-19 vaccination protects blood cancer patients – study
A single dose of a coronavirus vaccine triggers an immune response in around 70% of patients with the blood and bone marrow cancer, myeloma, according to a new study.
Researchers say the findings suggest the jab could provide protection against the virus.
Experts tested for Covid-19 coronavirus antibodies in 93 people with myeloma.
A recent report with a smaller number of patients with the cancer suggested that blood cancer patients might receive limited protection after vaccination.
Myeloma is a cancer of the immune cells produced in the bone marrow, and puts patients at greater risk of severe Covid-19 infection.
There were concerns it could also cause patients to have less protection in response to any vaccine.
In the study published in The Lancet Haematology, researchers tested the blood of patients who had received a first dose of vaccine.
They found that 56% of the myeloma patients (52 of 93) tested positive for the coronavirus IgG antibodies.
The researchers further analysed the blood of 40 of the patients who tested negative to see if they had other types of antibody indicating some immune protection against Covid-19.
They found an additional 13 patients had some anti-Sars-CoV-2 antibodies.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to hold a coronavirus press conference this afternoon.
Professor Sir Mark Walport, former chief scientific adviser to the UK Government, told BBC Breakfast that the decision to put India on the red list may have come a bit late.
Putting India on travel red list was necessary as UK variant cases rise – expert
Putting India on the travel red list was a necessary step due to an “upward trend” in UK cases involving a potentially worrying variant, a public health expert has said.
Sharon Peacock, the head of the Covid-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) and professor of public health and microbiology at the University of Cambridge, said it was currently unclear whether the variant first identified in India was behind its current wave, but there was enough concern to warrant slowing the number of cases coming into the UK.
On Monday, Boris Johnson was forced to cancel a trip to India while Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons that 103 cases of the variant had been identified in the UK so far.
The variant – also known as B.1.617 – was first noted internationally in October and first identified in the UK on February 22.
It has 13 mutations including two in the virus’ spike protein known as E494Q and L452R.
However, Public Health England (PHE) experts are currently unsure whether any of the mutations mean the variant can be transmitted more easily, is more deadly or can evade the effectiveness of vaccines or natural immunity.
Prof Peacock said more work was needed to determine whether the variant should move from being one under investigation, as at present, to a variant of concern.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will hold a coronavirus briefing at 12pm with chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith and national clinical director Jason Leitch.
New High Court trials almost a quarter above pre-Covid levels
Almost a quarter more evidence-led High Court trials were started than the pre-coronavirus average last month, as work continues to clear the backlog built up during the pandemic.
New figures from Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) show 51 such cases commenced in March, which is 23% higher than normal before Covid-19 restrictions.
It comes after the SCTS said last month that the backlog of High Court trials could take until 2025 to be cleared.
Meanwhile, 64 High Court cases were concluded – which is 5% lower than before Covid-19.
The overall level of new cases registered in March was 86% of the average monthly pre-coronavirus level.
Petitions, which provide a useful indicator of future solemn business, were 31% higher, while evidence-led summary trials in the Sheriff Courts are 43% of the average monthly pre-Covid levels.
The SCTS said this reflects the continued lockdown and court restrictions in place.
Coronavirus briefing in Scotland: What time will Nicola Sturgeon speak and what can we expect her to say on Tuesday?
The Scottish Government has confirmed that a covid briefing will be held by Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday.
SNP 'catastrophically failed' residents as care home deaths figures published
Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP “catastrophically failed” at protecting the lives of care home residents during the Covid-19 pandemic, Scottish Labour has said, after the full extent of care home deaths was published for the first time.
Coronavirus in Scotland: 'I like the idea of being able to have a drink in a beer garden' says Nicola Sturgeon ahead of lockdown easing announcement
Nicola Sturgeon said she likes the idea of having a 'nice drink at a beer garden' ahead of lockdown easing announcement
The First Minister has admitted that she likes the idea of being able to have a ‘nice drink in a beer garden’ ahead of the coronavirus briefing where she is expected to announce ‘significant easing’ of lockdown restrictions.
Unemployment rate drops and vacancies rebound as economy reopens
Britain’s unemployment rate eased back further in February and job vacancies surged as firms prepared to reopen after lockdown in a sign of hope for the battered jobs market.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the jobless rate fell to 4.9% between December and February, down from 5% in the previous three months.
Most experts had expected it to rise to 5.1%.
But the figures also showed the number of workers on UK payrolls fell by 56,000 in March after three months of increases, as the pandemic continued to take its toll.
Overall there were 813,000 fewer workers on payrolls than in March 2020, with more than half of those – 436,000 – aged under 25.