Nicola Sturgeon announcement RECAP: First Minister give covid briefing as cases soar | Controversial Manchester travel ban lifted after Andy Burnham row | Humza Yousaf blames Euro 2020 football fans for covid spike

Live updates on Covid-19 from Scotland, the UK, and around the world.

Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland.
Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland.

Scroll down to see the latest coronavirus news and coverage of Nicola Sturgeon’s update on easing of restrictions.

Covid Scotland LIVE: Nicola Sturgeon to make coronavirus announcement as cases soar | Humza Yousaf says football fans could be to blame for increase | Hong Kong latest location to ban UK travellers

Last updated: Tuesday, 29 June, 2021, 15:27

  • Humza Yousaf links spike in cases to ‘watching football indoors'
  • Nicola Sturgeon calls for caution as Monday figures show 3,285 people tested positive for Covid overnight
  • Scotland records lowest number of annual births since records began
  • Hong Kong bans all incoming flights from UK

The First Minister will be giving a coronavirus briefing live at 2:30 today.

Positivity rate is 11.6%.

Manchester travel ban lifted by Scottish Government.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Nobody wants travel restrictions in place for any longer than is absolutely necessary.

“Placing restrictions on travel between Scotland and parts of north west England was only taken after extremely careful consideration and analysis of data to help prevent the spread of variants of concern.

“Following a careful review of the data we have decided to ease travel arrangements between Scotland and Manchester, Salford and Bolton.

“However the situation regarding Blackburn and Darwen will need to be closely monitored and will be reviewed again in a week’s time.”

Cancer sufferers treated within target time falls to lowest level in two years

Just 83% of patients requiring urgent treatment for suspected cancers were treated within the two-month target time according to the latest NHS Scotland statistics – the lowest level in two years.

However, once a decision to treat the cancer was made, 97.7% of patients started treatment within the 31-day target, with an average wait of five days.

Cancer waiting time statistics published by Public Health Scotland for the first quarter of this year show increased numbers of patients being referred compared to the end of 2020 but the numbers are still far below pre-pandemic levels.

Of the 3,601 patients urgently referred for treatment with a suspected cancer between January and March, 2,988 (83%) started treatment within 62 days.

The total number of patients was an increase of 2.9% on the previous quarter, but still 6.1% below the quarter ending March 31 2020.

The average waiting time was 43 days, although the maximum recorded wait was 244 days.

Across Scotland, the Scottish Government’s target of 95% of eligible patients waiting for treatment was only met by two health boards: NHS Shetland and NHS Borders.

The 31-day standard, which is a target for 95% of patients to wait no longer than that from the time the decision to treat is made to first cancer treatment, was met in 5,683 out of the 5,816 cases (97.7%).

That is down from 98.6% on the final three months of 2020, but up from 96.2% in the first quarter of that year.

There were 5,816 eligible referrals within the 31-day standard, an increase of 2.1% from the previous quarter but a decrease of 10% for quarter ending 31 March 2020.

On average, treatment began after just five days, although the maximum wait was 131.

Scotland records lowest number of annual births since records began

Scotland had the smallest number of annual births last year since records began, according to official figures.

Statistics from the National Records of Scotland show 46,809 births were registered in 2020.

This is 17,284 fewer births than deaths and the lowest number since records began in 1855.

Julie Ramsay, vital events statistician, said: “With over 64,000 deaths in 2020, which is 10% higher than in 2019, the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on Scotland are clear.

“NRS statistics also show that there were only 46,809 births across Scotland in 2020, which is the lowest number since records began in 1855.”

Deaths?

There were 64,093 deaths registered last year, 10% more than in 2019 and 6,333 above the previous five-year average.

This is the highest level of excess deaths seen since 1940.

Infant deaths?

Last year also saw the lowest infant death rate ever recorded, with 146 infant deaths.

There were 198 stillbirths, a slight increase on the previous year’s rate but low in historical terms.

Marriages?

There were just 11,831 marriages in 2020 compared to 26,007 in 2019, following restrictions on marriage ceremonies during the pandemic.

Of the marriages, 289 were same-sex. There were also 72 civil partnerships, which is 11 fewer than in the previous year.

A total of 33 of these involved male couples and 39 involved female couples.

Quarantine exemption for foreign business leaders bringing economic boost to UK

Overseas business leaders will no longer need to quarantine when arriving in England if their trip is likely to be of significant economic benefit to the UK, the Government has announced.

Company executives wishing to travel to England to make a “financial investment in a UK-based business” or for “establishing a new business within the UK” will be exempt but they will need written permission first.

The Department for Business said: “This exemption is designed to enable activity that creates and preserves UK jobs and investment, while taking steps to ensure public health risks are minimised.”

But the Government added that business leaders will not qualify for an exemption if the activities can be carried out remotely via telephone or email, or by another person.

“Significant economic benefit” is considered to be having a greater than 50% chance of creating or preserving at least 500 UK-based jobs, or creating a new UK business within two years, the new guidance added.

Business leaders visiting England will need to take a Covid-19 test, take further tests on arrival, and tell the Government they intend to use the exemption, before getting a letter of confirmation.

Bosses hoping to use the loophole to attend a routine board meeting will be disappointed, although a meeting to make a decision on whether to invest in a new UK division could be accepted.

When not working in England on business matters, those executives will need to continue to self-isolate, the guidance added, and must conduct meetings in a Covid-secure way.

It said: “Any individual who leaves self-isolation when required to self-isolate and who is not lawfully exempt from those requirements will be committing a criminal offence.”

Business leaders have been primarily carrying out activities remotely during much of the pandemic.

But airlines have been pushing hard for restrictions to ease because sales of business-class and first-class seats – which generate the biggest profits – have plunged as companies adopt remote working.

NHS Lothian drop-in vaccine centre opens today as cases soar

A vaccine drop-in centre for people aged 18 to 39 has opened in Edinburgh to help boost vaccination numbers.

The clinic – at the Younger Building, Royal Bank of Scotland, Edinburgh Park at South Gyle – opened on Tuesday and is available to anyone who needs a first or second dose.

Read more here by Katharine Hay.

BREAKING: Wales sees zero weekly deaths from coronavirus for first time since pandemic began

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will be joined by Dr Gregor Smith, Scotland’s chief medical officer, for the briefing today at 2.30pm.

Scotland should 'press pause' on Covid restrictions easing, says virologist

Scotland should “press pause” on the easing of restrictions in a bid to regain control of Covid cases, a virologist has claimed, as the country recorded a record high number of positive Covid cases.

The country is in a “very delicate situation”, Dr Eleanor Gaunt, research fellow at Edinburgh University’s Roslin Institute, said.

Her comment came as Scotland recorded the highest daily case number so far during the pandemic, with 3,285 new cases on Monday.

Read more here by Elsa Maishman and Alexander Brown.

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