Live updates on Covid-19 in Scotland, the UK, and around the world.
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Last updated: Monday, 29 March, 2021, 14:06
- Animal welfare centres at capacity as result of pandemic
- Scotland records no Covid deaths on Monday
- 352 new Covid cases reported in Scotland
352 new Covid cases reported in Scotland on Monday – and no further deaths.
Scotland has recorded no deaths of coronavirus patients for the third consecutive day.
There were 352 positive tests in the past 24 hours, according to the latest data.
The death toll under the daily data measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – remains at 7,584.
The daily test positivity rate was 3.2%, up from 2.6% on Sunday.
There are 259 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, down five in 24 hours, and 22 patients are in intensive care, no change.
A total of 2,409,826 people have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine and 326,263 have received their second dose.
The door ‘is not shut’ on foreign summer holidays, Matt Hancock says
The door “is not shut” on foreign holidays this summer and more will be known from Government scientists in the next few weeks, the Health Secretary has said.
As outdoor gatherings and sport resumes across England, Matt Hancock said international travel had not been ruled out, though the priority was enabling people in the UK to see friends and family.
He told ITV’s This Morning the “biggest problem” was from variants such as those first found in South Africa and Brazil, and it was not yet known if vaccines were effective against them.
“We’re not yet sure, but we’re doing the science in Porton Down, and watching very closely, and if that all goes well, then we haven’t got a problem and then we’ll be much more relaxed about international travel,” he said.
“We will know more over the next few weeks.”
‘Win-win’ solution on Covid vaccines sought in talks between UK and EU
Talks between the UK and the EU are taking place with the aim of securing a “win-win” solution on Covid-19 vaccines.
It was confirmed on Monday that discussions have been ongoing during the last fortnight on issues including vaccine production.
It comes as Downing Street indicated that coronavirus vaccine supplies will not be shared with other countries until all UK adults have been offered a jab.
At a UK lobby briefing, the official spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Our first priority is to protect the British public.
“The vaccine rollout is continuing to that end. We don’t currently have a surplus of vaccines but we will consider how they are best allocated as they become available.”
At the European Commission’s daily press briefing, a spokeswoman refused to be drawn on the specifics of meetings that have taken place, but described the discussions with the UK as covering a “broad range of matters”.
April re-opening dates set for Scotland’s castles, cathedrals and museums
Castles, cathedrals, and museums are due to reopen at the end of April as visitors return to Scotland’s historic sites.
The country’s heritage venues have been closed over the last three months due to the coronavirus lockdown, but the easing of restrictions mean they can soon open their doors.
The National Museum of Scotland, the National Museum of Flight and the National Museum of Rural Life will reopen from April 26, while the National War Museum at Edinburgh Castle, will welcome history lovers from May 1.
From April 30, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) will unshutter its locations including Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, Fort George and Caerlaverock Castle.
Dryburgh Abbey, Dunblane Cathedral and Dunfermline Abbey will also be among locations reopening.
More than 70% of HSE’s free-to-access and ticketed properties will open on April 30.
Mural of almost 150,000 hearts painted in London to remember Covid victims
A mural made up of almost 150,000 hand-drawn hearts is being painted in central London to remember the victims of the coronavirus crisis.
Organisers said that, despite its location on the south bank of the Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament, the Memorial Wall is not meant to be “political or antagonistic” but provide a “visual representation” of every life lost.
The hearts are being individually painted by bereaved family members and the mural is expected to stretch more than half a mile (1km) when finished.
It has been organised by the campaign group Covid-19 Bereaved Families For Justice, who have previously called for an inquiry into the Government’s handling of the pandemic.
Matt Fowler, co-founder of the group, who lost his father to the virus, said: “Each heart is individually hand-painted (and) utterly unique, just like the loved ones we’ve lost.
“And, like the scale of our collective loss, this memorial is going to be enormous.”
A further 18 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 86,194, NHS England said on Monday.
A total of 64.5 million Covid-19 vaccination doses have been administered, the European Commission has said.
Covid-19 case rates for UK nations ‘levelling off’ at six-month low
Covid-19 case rates for each of the four UK nations have dropped to a six-month low, but continue to show signs of levelling off, latest figures suggest.
Wales has the lowest rate among the four nations, with 39.1 cases per 100,000 people recorded in the seven days to March 24.
Rates have not been at this level in Wales since mid-September.
The pace of the drop has slowed considerably, however, with the latest seven-day rate barely changed from 42.6 recorded a week earlier or 40.3 the week before that.
It is a similar story in England, where the current rate of 55.9 cases per 100,000 people is down only slightly from 57.1 in the previous week and 58.8 a fortnight earlier.
In Scotland, the rate currently stands at 70.1, compared with 73.5 a week earlier and 69.5 two weeks ago.
Experts call for staycations instead of foreign holidays this summer
Summer staycations should be encouraged over foreign holidays this year, according to scientific experts.
Dame Anne Johnson, professor of epidemiology at University College London, said the importation of new coronavirus variants is “one of the biggest risks” facing the UK.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “This is a risk where you’ve got high rates of infection. I’m for staycations.”
Professor Sir Mark Walport, former chief scientific adviser to the Government, was asked on the same programme whether the Government should stop people travelling abroad, or make it difficult by enforcing quarantine after travel.
He replied: “I think this has to be driven by the data.
“Certainly at the moment many countries in Europe have got case numbers that are going up – there is 36,000 cases a day in France, 16,000 in Germany, 22,000 in Italy.
“The numbers speak for themselves.”
Get Covid-19 case numbers down to enable hugs – expert
People should be able to hug again when case numbers are “very, very low”, a former government adviser has said.
Professor Sir Mark Walport, former chief scientific adviser to the Government, said there are still around 5,000 cases a day in the UK.
And that while most of the vulnerable population are now protected, there are still 37 million people who have not been immunised.
But he said more is being learned about vaccines each day – including evidence on whether they can help stop the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, the “hands, face, space, fresh air” slogan serves as a reminder to people not to “sneak into the house” as restrictions ease, he added.
Asked about when people could hug again, he told Times Radio: “I think that when the evidence shows that the case number is really, really low indeed, that’s the point, so some degree of caution makes sense.
“We’re also learning more about the effectiveness of the vaccine every day at the moment – as more and more people get the vaccine then we will learn from the numbers.”
Belfast’s SSE Arena opens as mass vaccination centre
One of Northern Ireland’s largest live events arenas will open as a mass vaccination centre later.
The SSE Arena in Belfast will have the capacity to administer jabs to 40,000 people a week.
A slowdown in the UK’s vaccine supply lines will see the centre processing around 11,000 people a week initially, with the numbers ramping up as more AstraZeneca jabs become available.
The arena floor has the capacity for 60 separate vaccine stations.
It is operating as a mass vaccination site for the whole of Northern Ireland.
Six regional centres will continue to administer vaccines, as will GP surgeries.
From Monday, more than 300 community pharmacies will also become involved in the vaccine rollout.
The SSE Arena is the home of the Belfast Giants ice hockey team, and prior to the pandemic was the region’s main venue for indoor concerts.
Its opening as a mass vaccine centre was originally expected to be accompanied by an expansion of the vaccination programme to take in the 40-49 age cohort.
Wetherspoon boss says vaccine passports would be ‘the last straw’ for pubs
Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin has said vaccine passports would be “the last straw” for struggling pubs and force bar staff into a “bitter civil liberties war” with customers.
Conservative backbenchers, publicans and some scientists have raised concerns over the possible introduction of coronavirus health certificates as England’s lockdown is eased.
Ministers are studying their potential use, which could see access to venues granted only if customers have been jabbed, received negative tests, or developed antibodies through past infection.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden argued on Sunday that vaccine passports will not be introduced on a “permanent basis” but they could be a beneficial tool to restart safely in the short-term.
But, writing in the Telegraph, Mr Martin said “there is no justification for a passport system”.
The chairman of the pub chain said: “For many pubs, hanging on for dear life and devastated by G-force changes of direction, a complex and controversial passport scheme would be the last straw.
“It would inevitably put pub staff in the frontline of a bitter civil liberties war, with some customers unwilling to be vaccinated or unable to have a jab for medical reasons.”
Animal welfare charity centres ‘have hit capacity as a result of pandemic’
An animal welfare charity has said its centres across Scotland have hit capacity as a result of the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
The Scottish SPCA says it has recorded an increase in the number of calls to its helpline about unwanted animals, with more than 136,000 calls received in 2020.
Its frontline team attended an average 214 incidents each day – nearly 78,000 across the year – with 3,369 animals rehomed and more than 7,000 others admitted to the National Wildlife Rescue Centre.
A rise in demand for puppies has also led to an increase in the number of raids and seizures of dogs from low-welfare puppy farms and dealers.
Chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “In many cases, neglect is not deliberate. Even people who love their animals can find themselves in a position where they are unable to continue to provide them with the care they need.
“This could be a change in personal circumstance or an accident. The decision can be heartbreaking but ultimately it is the right one for the welfare of that animal. It is admirable to put an animal’s needs first.
“Our centres have hit capacity and we desperately need the support of the animal loving Scottish public so that they don’t let animals suffer.
“We will continue to be here for every person and animal that need us in all communities across Scotland.
“Every single person who signs up to support us with a monthly donation will be making an impact and will allow us to rescue animals.”