Coronavirus latest news: Nicola Sturgeon pledges independent inquiry into pandemic handling this year

Coronavirus latest news: Nicola Sturgeon pledges independent inquiry into pandemic handling this year

The Scottish Government will begin its own independent inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic by the end of the year.

The inquiry, which follows pressure from bereaved families, will “scrutinise decisions taken in the course of this pandemic, and learn lessons for future pandemics”, including the “situation in care homes”, the government said.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said talks were in progress with Scotland’s top prosecutor, Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain QC, about leading the inquiry and it is “fully our intention that this will be a judge-led inquiry”.

“I can confirm it will be established by the end of this year, as promised, and it will take a person centred, human rights based approach,” she said, with a public consultation underway.

Ms Sturgeon had previously expressed enthusiasm for a UK-wide inquiry. The Scottish Covid Bereaved Families for Justice group said Boris Johnson’s spring 2022 inquiry was “far too late”.

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The “sharp rise” in Covid-19 cases in Scotland over recent days is a “cause of real concern”, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister told reporters new cases have more than doubled over the past week, with “around half of all new cases right now” in people under the age of 25.

The latest daily figure of new Covid cases is the “largest we have ever recorded in a single day”, Ms Sturgeon said – though she added more testing was now being carried out.

But the First Minister said: “We always knew cases were likely to rise as restrictions eased, so to some extent what we are seeing now is not entirely unexpected.”

With vaccination “making a big difference” Ms Sturgeon said many of the new cases were in younger people, who are “less likely” to have had both doses of vaccine.

The “sharp rise” in Covid-19 cases in Scotland over recent days is a “cause of real concern”, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister told reporters new cases have more than doubled over the past week, with “around half of all new cases right now” in people under the age of 25.

The latest daily figure of new Covid cases is the “largest we have ever recorded in a single day”, Ms Sturgeon said – though she added more testing was now being carried out.

But the First Minister said: “We always knew cases were likely to rise as restrictions eased, so to some extent what we are seeing now is not entirely unexpected.”

With vaccination “making a big difference” Ms Sturgeon said many of the new cases were in younger people, who are “less likely” to have had both doses of vaccine.

The Scottish Government has announced it will begin its own independent inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic by the end of the year, following pressure from bereaved families.

The public are being asked to share their views on the approach to the inquiry, following the publication of an “aims and principles” paper on Tuesday.

Setting up an inquiry into coronavirus was one of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s pledges for her first 100 days of the reformed Scottish Government following the election.

The inquiry will “scrutinise decisions taken in the course of this pandemic, and learn lessons for future pandemics”, the government says.

Ms Sturgeon had previously said her preference was for a UK-wide inquiry to be held. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said his Covid inquiry will begin next spring.

A child’s first day of school – a landmark moment for the youngest students and their parents around the world – has been delayed due to Covid-19 for an estimated 140 million young minds, Unicef has estimated.

For around eight million of these students, the wait for their first day of in-person learning has been over a year and counting, as they live in places where schools have been closed throughout the pandemic.

Unicef executive director Henrietta Fore said this “landmark moment” had been “indefinitely postponed”, with devastating consequences for learning.

“For the most vulnerable, their risk of never stepping into a classroom in their lifetime is skyrocketing,” she said.

In 2020, schools globally were fully closed for an average of 79 teaching days. But for 168 million students, after the pandemic began, schools were shuttered for nearly the entire year, the UN agency said.

France’s health watchdog has recommended a Covid-19 vaccine booster vaccine for those aged 65 and over and for at-risk groups with existing medical conditions.

These Covid booster shots should be rolled out from the end of October onwards, it added, Haute Autorite de Sante (HAS) said on Tuesday.

It is the latest wealthy nation to defy the World Health Organisation’s call for third doses to be delayed until populations in poorer countries have had a first.

The UN agency on Monday called for a two-month moratorium on booster shots to stop the emergence of new variants.

Of the 4.8 billion vaccine doses delivered to date globally, 75 per cent have gone to only 10 countries while vaccine coverage in Africa is at less than 2 per cent, the WHO said.

The World Health Organisation says it only has enough supplies in Afghanistan to last for a week after medical equipment was blocked at the crisis-hit Kabul airport.

The UN agency is also concerned the current upheaval in Afghanistan could lead to a spike in Covid-19 infections, with testing for the virus dropping by 77 per cent n the past week.

WHO officials told an online briefing that 95 per cent of health facilities in Afghanistan were operational but some female staff had not returned to their posts and some female patients were scared to leave their homes.

Deliveries of more than 500 tonnes of medical supplies, including surgical equipment and malnutrition kits, have been held up because of curbs at Kabul airport, the WHO said.

Greece will end free testing for unvaccinated people to boost inoculation rates and head off any renewed spike in delta variant infections of the coronavirus.

New measures which will come into effect on September 13 stop short of forcing people to take a jab, but oblige unvaccinated persons to test either once or twice a week, depending on their profession.

Free testing for vaccinated people will continue.

The costs of the rapid test, set at 10 euros (£8.50), is a sizeable expense for people in the crisis-hit country where salaries average 1,161 euros (£993) a month.

Authorities said six million people in the country of 11 million had received one or two doses, but a million more were needed to build adequate immunity.

New research reveals that confidence among small and medium sized businesses is returning to pre-pandemic levels, with hospitality and leisure businesses forecasting a revenue boost of 27 per cent.

According to the seventh instalment of the report from Barclaycard Payments, which processes nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, 60 per cent of small to medium hospitality and leisure businesses expect an increase in revenue across the August Bank Holiday, which is the first long weekend post-lockdown.

Additionally, consumer demand to return to shops, pubs and restaurants has also led 60 per cent of retail and hospitality businesses to report equal or higher customer numbers than before the onset of the pandemic.

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