First Minister to update parliament on coronavirus restrictions
One of the First Minister’s COVID advisers has called for all over 12s to be vaccinated in a bid to end the disruption of their education.
Professor Devi Sridhar, chair of global public health at Edinburgh University and a member of Nicola Sturgeon’s Covid-19 advisory group said giving all secondary school pupils the jab could avoid the need for blended learning or home learning in the autumn.
The professor’s plea comes ahead of the First Minister’s update to MSPs on any changes to Scotland’s coronavirus restrictions.
Sturgeon’s coming under increasing pressure to move quicker and could soon face another court battle over the use of the emergency powers.
Soft play businesses in parts of Scotland in level two or higher have now been closed since last August.
Owners will be protesting outside Holyrood today, demanding the government publish the scientific evidence behind the restrictions.
Meanwhile, pub bosses have asked for some flexibility with late night opening. They’ve warned that kicking out football fans during decisive moments in the Euro 2020 could put their staff at risk.
Currently, bars and restaurants in level two can serve alcohol until 10.30pm, while those in level one can stay open until 11pm.
But some matches don't start until 8pm, meaning that if they go to extra time and penalties, supporters could be forced to leave during a shoot-out.
Stephen Montgomery, of the Scottish Hospitality Group, said: “We saw in the Europa League final that the game went on to extra time and then 22 penalties,” he said.
“If the Scottish government doesn’t give some flexibility to the current rules we could end up in a situation where people can watch the group stages but when it comes to the knockout round hospitality staff are going to be forced to ask fans to leave right in the middle of all that.”
There were 641 cases of the virus recorded in Scotland in the latest update from the government. A total of 241,169 people in the country have now tested positive for the virus since the start of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, reports this morning suggest Boris Johnson could be forced to delay the expected ending of restrictions south of the border on June 21.
Fears about the rate of transmission of new strains, as well concerns over the amount of protection offered by the vaccine could see the Prime Minister push England’s re-opening pushed back by at least a fortnight.
The Indian variant is thought to be 40 per cent more transmissible than the variant identified in Kent.
Though there are suggestions the vaccine is having an impact. Of the 12,383 cases of the Indian variant that have been identified, 126 have led to hospital admissions. Eighty-three of the patients had not been vaccinated at all, 28 had received one dose and three had received both doses.
However, while the UK’s rapid vaccine rollout means huge swathes of the population has already had at least one jab, there are still millions unvaccinated.
The latest figures show that 3,386,321 people aged 18 or over in Scotland have received the first dose of a vaccine and 2,251,259 have received their second dose.
A total of 122 people were in hospital yesterday with recently confirmed Covid-19, with 12 in intensive care.
On Friday the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for children aged 12-15, it’s now up to the UK’s vaccines committee to decide whether children should be inoculated.
Yesterday, Sridhar told Good Morning Britain: “If we want schools to continue without disruption in the autumn and lift restrictions so children can have a normal experience, we need to vaccinate them — and if we wait and watch for the evidence it will be too late in the next few weeks.
“We have the supply. It’s not a large amount, it’s a couple of million doses to cover that population of 12-plus.
“And we can’t use AstraZeneca — the main supply we have — in younger age groups, so we should export AstraZeneca and help countries abroad, send those doses, as well as focusing on our adolescents to make sure they don’t have another year disrupted, because that would be an absolute shame."
She added: “We might as well just do it, roll it out in the summer, get those kids covered so secondary schools can go back, normally, this autumn. I think it’d be a huge shame for backing blended learning or having kids doing home learning in the autumn."