VIRUS: SHARP RISE IN SCOTTISH COVID DEATHS

Number of Scottish coronavirus deaths reaches 60 as police tell people to go home – and stay there

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The police are appealing to people to go home and isolate themselves. Picture by Bill Heaney

Sturgeon Docherty Hughes and O'Hara 4By Democrat reporter

A further 13 people with coronavirus have died in Scotland, bringing the total to 60.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, right,  said a total of 1,993 people had now tested positive for the virus, up from 1,563 on Monday.

However, 108 of these were from a laboratory which had been unable to submit data over the weekend.

Ms Sturgeon said this partially explained the big increase in the number of positive tests.

But she stressed that the actual number of cases of coronavirus in Scotland is likely to be far higher than the figures show.

Meanwhile, all UK police officers have been told to take a “consistent” approach when ensuring people comply with emergency measures aimed at curbing coronavirus.

Guidance to officers calls on forces to “coordinate” efforts and emphasises the importance of professionalism.

It comes amid criticism of the way some forces have handled the new measures.

A former Justice of the Supreme Court told the BBC one force’s use of drones to film walkers in the Peak District had been “disgraceful”.

But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said police forces were doing a difficult job and being sensible about enforcing social distancing measures.

‘Questioning mindset’

New guidance was issued to police on Thursday when officers were given powers to fine people who gather in groups or refuse to return home, following social distancing measures introduced by the government last week.

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A police officer in Dublin gives some friendly advice to a jogger there.

The document from the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing, seen by the BBC, says:

  • communities must receive a “consistent” level of service from officers as well as a “single style and tone”
  • police should keep an “inquisitive, questioning mindset” when finding out why people are outside
  • new enforcement measures should not be used if people are vulnerable and cannot safely return home

However, some forces have adopted different approaches, particularly around the issue of driving.

Derbyshire Police used drones to film people parking their cars for walks in the Peak District.

Lancashire Police issued 123 enforcement notices over the weekend, while Cheshire Police summonsed six people for various offences, including travelling to purchase “non-essential” items.

On Monday, Lord Sumption, a former Justice of the Supreme Court, said the actions of Derbyshire Police “shamed our policing traditions”.

‘Conversation and explanation’

Derbyshire’s chief constable, Peter Goodman, told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Emma Barnett the decision to deploy a drone in the Peak District came after supermarkets in villages were emptied and beauty spots were inundated with sightseers.

“Some forces will be doing not enough, perhaps, some forces have probably gone a bit too far and some sit in the middle. Some would say we in Derbyshire have gone too far,” he said.

“I genuinely believe that we haven’t because we are trying to do everything through conversation and explanation.”

There have been discussions among senior officers about the need for police to exercise common sense and sound judgment.

Forces were “finding their way” in dealing with the unprecedented measures, Martin Hewitt from the National Police Chiefs’ Council told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

The chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police, Andy Marsh, said officers want to work with the public in promoting social distancing. “We’re not going to enforce our way out of this problem,” he said.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, one of the UK’s most senior police officers, said officers must preserve “the trust and confidence of the public” and maintain the tradition of “policing by consent”.

The latest number of deaths announced in the UK of people with coronavirus has reached 1,408, while the number of people tested was 134,946.

Downing Street has suggested that the target of testing 25,000 people per day for coronavirus may not be met until the end of April.

On Monday, the UK’s chief scientific adviser said there were early signs the social distancing measures – which restrict people’s travel and activities outside their home – were “making a difference”.

Sir Patrick Vallance said at the government’s daily coronavirus news briefing that the NHS was seeing around an additional 1,000 patients a day and described this daily rise as stable “which may suggest that we’re already beginning to see some effect”.

Meanwhile, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released new figures on coronavirus deaths in England and Wales which showed for the first time the number of deaths linked to Covid-19 outside of hospitals.

The new ONS data includes how many deaths were registered up to the 20 March – the day that pubs and clubs were ordered to shut down to help tackle the outbreak.

What’s different about the data is it looks at community deaths – people who died at home or in residential care who doctors recorded on the death certificate as probably having Covid-19.

There were 103 – 1% of all deaths.

The ONS also trawled a few days ahead of the 20 March to capture any deaths stuck in a recording backlog – bringing the total to 210 deaths involving coronavirus.

That’s 40 more than the 170 deaths that the government announced at the time – those were all hospital deaths of patients who had tested positive for coronavirus and so definitely had the infection.

In comparison, there are not enough tests to check how many people in the community are infected, or how many deaths are linked to Covid-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

So these community death figures are interesting, but they don’t give us a clearer idea of the true toll.

The total number of people in Scotland who have died after being diagnosed with Covid-19 is 60, a rise of 13 on Monday, Nicola Sturgeon announced.

The first minister said as of 09:00 BST on Tuesday 1,993 people had tested positive for the coronavirus in Scotland, up 430 on the previous day.

Ms Sturgeon also said around 6% of NHS staff in Scotland were currently off work because they had coronavirus symptoms or were self-isolating.

In other developments:

  • British Airways said it would suspend its schedule at London Gatwick
  • The UK mortgage market went into lockdown as lenders pulled out of new deals
  • The government’s cabinet group of senior ministers met entirely through video conference technology for the first time in history as Prime Minister Boris Johnson continued self-isolation
  • Britons stranded abroad by the coronavirus pandemic will be flown home under a new arrangement between the government and airlines
  • The first person to die with coronavirus in Guernsey in the Channel Islands passed away on Monday, the island’s director of public health said
  • Grocery sales for the month of March beat all previous UK records as shoppers stocked up
  • Families with children eligible for free school meals in England will be able to claim weekly shopping vouchers during school closures
  • Pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson said it hopes to start coronavirus vaccine trials in humans by September

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