Ballot counting has begun in the 2021 Holyrood election.
After the polls closed on Thursday evening there was no overnight count in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Instead, votes in some 46 of the 73 constituency seats began to be counted from 9am on Friday, with the first results expected from around noon.
It is anticipated all 46 will be declared by Friday evening.
Then, from about 9am on Saturday, the remaining 27 constituency seats will be counted, after which the regional seats will be allocated.
Due to the slower count, the final result may not be declared until Sunday.
The result will decide who forms the next Scottish Government, with powers over areas like health, education and income tax.
It will also have an impact on whether or not there is a second referendum on Scottish independence.
Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross is watching the Moray count in Elgin, while Alba Party leader Alex Salmond is at the P&J Live/Teca arena in Aberdeen.
Elsewhere, Scottish Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie was the first party leader to arrive at the Glasgow count at the Emirates Arena.
More than 4.2 million voters – a record number for a Scottish election – registered to have their say at the ballot box.
Polling stations also looked different than normal due to the pandemic, with various safety measures in place to protect voters and staff from Covid-19.
Anas Sarwar (Labour), Douglas Ross (Conservative) and Patrick Harvie (Green) were among the party leaders voting in person on Thursday, while Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) and Willie Rennie (Lib Dem) sent in their ballots by post.
Opinion polls for STV News carried out by Ipsos MORI have all predicted that the SNP will be the biggest party, but it remains to be seen whether it will secure an overall majority.
Winning at least 65 of the 129 available seats would give Sturgeon’s party what it believes is a mandate to hold a second independence referendum.
Opposition parties have focused their campaigns on preventing an SNP majority, with the Scottish Conservatives calling on Labour and Liberal Democrats supporters to “lend their vote” to them.
Elsewhere, former first minister Alex Salmond is bidding to return to frontline politics as an MSP with his new party Alba.
College students and staff can now access rapid coronavirus testing twice a week after thousands of kits were sent out to institutions across Scotland.
More than 100,000 lateral flow testing kits which give quick results have been distributed to colleges in the hope of supporting the safe return of teaching on campus.
Easy-to-access systems are in place so that both students and staff can pick-up the at-home kits at their convenience.
Lauren Mulvey, 28, a student at West College Scotland from Paisley, said: “It’s great that we can get these kits directly from the college. It avoids me going to a test centre or a medical centre as I don’t have access to a car so that helps.
“I hope as many people as possible use them to make it safe to return to college. I am healthy and would feel happy in college, but I worry about bringing any virus to my family. It looks like the new normal is beginning to really start – I want to get back to learning and complete my HND photography course.”
In line with current public health guidance, only a limited number of students are allowed on to college campuses at any one time, with safety measures such as social distancing in place.
Professor Jason Leitch, Scotland’s national clinical director, said: “Around one in three people with Covid-19 do not have symptoms. Rapid lateral flow testing helps to find cases in people who may have no symptoms but are still infectious and can transmit the virus to others.
“These easy-to-use at home kits offer extra reassurance so it’s important that students continue to make use of them regularly as restrictions are lifted.
“The test involves taking a sample from your tonsils, or where they would have been, and from your nose, using a swab. You can get a result in 30 minutes. Asymptomatic testing is important as it can identify cases of Covid-19 that would otherwise not be picked up and, by doing so, break chains of transmission.”
So far, a total of 101,736 testing kits, each including seven individual tests, have been provided to colleges by the Scottish Government. Once administered, the results are visible on the test within 30 minutes and can be uploaded to the NHS website.
John Masson, 46, from Glasgow, who is studying HND photography, said: “I think it is a good thing as it gives you and people around you some reassurance and confidence.
“It has been a difficult year being away from my classmates and if using these tests means that we can work together again – I am all for it.
“I am hoping this is another step towards getting back to being a working student and being a professional photographer when I graduate this later year.”
The Scottish Government recommends two tests are taken each week, ideally three days apart.
Matt Crilly, president of the National Union of Students in Scotland, said: “It’s up to all of us to keep our colleges safe for students and staff. I’d encourage all students to take up the offer of regular voluntary asymptomatic tests.
“It’s quick, easy and you can do it at home – get tested.”
Shona Struthers, chief executive of Colleges Scotland, said: “I’m pleased college students and staff can support the efforts we are all making to keep each other safe by using lateral flow tests.
“Colleges are making these available with easy-to-access systems, and the reassurance they bring is a really important part of being back on campus for essential learning.”
A man has been charged over a stabbing near to a polling station in Renfrewshire.
A 50-year-old man was left with life threatening injuries after officers responded to reports of a knife attack on Broomlands Street in Paisley at around 9.15am on Thursday.
A 25-year-old has since been arrested and charged in connection with the incident and will appear at court on Monday.
The injured man was taken to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital where he has been treated for serious injuries.
Police said the incident is not related to the nearby polling station or to the election.
A spokesman for the force said: “Following yesterday’s appeal, Police Scotland can confirm that a 25-year-old man has been arrested and charged in connection with a serious assault in the Paisley area.”
Nicola Sturgeon has called the former deputy leader of Britain First a “racist” after she accused the SNP leader of “flooding” the country with immigrants.
Jayda Fransen, who is standing as an independent in Glasgow Southside, the same constituency contested by Sturgeon, confronted the her on Thursday outside what appeared to be a polling station, according to footage posted online.
Fransen, who has convictions for religiously aggravated harassment, tells Sturgeon: “What are you sorry for? Mass immigration, Marxism?
“I’m not a fascist. I’ve been on the ground speaking to locals who say you are an absolute disgrace…”
Sturgeon said: “We’ll see what the locals’ view is later on.”
Fransen said: “The locals, what the ones you have flooded from other countries?
“The decent people of Scotland don’t want it flooded with immigrants.”
Sturgeon tells her: “You are a fascist, you are a racist and the southside of Glasgow will reject you.”
The SNP leader then walks away with party members as Fransen pursues her, talking about “mass immigration” and “Marxism”.
Responding to footage of the incident on Twitter, Sturgeon later wrote: “Glasgow Southside is the most diverse and multi-cultural constituency in Scotland – one of the many things that makes it so brilliant.
“I am confident it will unite today to utterly reject these fascists.”
Fransen later tells an SNP supporter who asks her who she is: “I’m not fascist, just a normal, decent unionist patriot.
“My grandfather fought the Nazis.”
In a piece to camera uploaded by the British Freedom Party, she accuses Sturgeon of “running away like a coward”, adding: “Of course if you flood a constituency with foreigners and hardline republicans who absolutely hate Britain, hate the union, they are going to secure their votes.
“The unionist community are no longer unrepresented and we are coming for you.”
Fransen has previously been pictured outside the constituency office of justice secretary Humza Yousaf holding a sign saying “it’s okay to be white” and has said she is running against the “SNP commie, Marxists, naughty people”.
She has previously been convicted of a number of religiously aggravated crimes, including harassment in both 2016 and 2018 – the latter of which saw her sentenced to 36 weeks in prison.
Although a member of the British Freedom Party, documents from Glasgow City Council show Fransen is running as an independent.
More than £1m worth of equipment from NHS Louisa Jordan has been distributed to benefit patients across the country.
Five hundred bed bays have also been put away in storage in case there’s a “future need for an emergency hospital”.
The £70m temporary hospital, which was located within the Scottish Events Campus (SEC) in Glasgow, closed in March to outpatients, diagnostic appointments and clinical training after having played a critical role in the fight against Covid-19.
The hospital carried out more than 32,000 healthcare appointments, trained more than 6900 healthcare staff and students, and vaccinated around 175,000 people.
Vaccinations continued into April before moving to The SSE Hydro.
Following its decommissioning, NHS Louisa Jordan resources have been used to:
Further equip a range of services in the Western Isles, Forth Valley, Fife, Lanarkshire, Glasgow and Tayside.
Set up the NHS Louisa Jordan vaccination facilities at The SSE Hydro.
Help NHS Lothian vaccination facilities.
Further equip the new NHS Scotland Covid testing laboratories.
Support NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to continue providing the Heart Failure service it started within NHS Louisa Jordan to help waiting times for patients.
A complete package of equipment has also been earmarked for NHS Highland for new facilities at Skye, Aviemore, and the new National Treatment Centre in Inverness.
Jill Young, chief executive of NHS Louisa Jordan, said: “Up until March 2021, NHS Louisa Jordan has been supporting the remobilisation of NHS Scotland services by carrying out much needed outpatient and diagnostic appointments, training and research.
“Now we will also be providing equipment to existing, redesigned and new health facilities across the whole of Scotland.
“The impact and benefit to patient care is immeasurable and is a legacy that will go far beyond those who have been seen or vaccinated at the SEC in Glasgow.”
This distribution is just the first tranche of equipment being earmarked for health and social care facilities across Scotland.
A vital element of the NHS Louisa Jordan programme is ensuring plans and resources are there for future contingencies.
An NHS Scotland spokesperson said: “As such, NHS Scotland will be storing and retaining 500 bed bays, along with supplementary infrastructure equipment from the hospital along with a fully comprehensive delivery and operational manual to ensure that our health service can quickly and efficiently respond should there ever be a future need for an emergency hospital.”
Shoppers returned to the high street in April but footfall is still well below pre-pandemic levels, according to a retail body.
Figures recorded by the Scottish Retail Consortium and Sensormatic IQ show footfall to Scotland’s shops increased by 14.2% from March.
The Scottish Government relaxed coronavirus restrictions to expand the definition of non-essential retail at the beginning of April, and then allowed all stores to welcome back customers from April 26.
The statistics show large drops in comparison to the same period before the pandemic, with footfall down 52.1% in April compared to 2019.
This is greater than the UK average decline of 40%.
Shopping centre footfall declined by 59% in April in comparison to the same month in 2019, but this was up from a 72.1% decline in March.
Footfall in Glasgow decreased by 51.8%, a 16.4% improvement from March.
David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Shopper footfall in Scotland began to recover in April in line with the phased reopening of retail from lockdown.
“All retail destinations saw some improvement, especially in city centres during the final week of April as stultifying Covid restrictions ceased and shoppers took the opportunity to seek out their favourite stores.
“While these figures are undoubtedly encouraging, there is some way to go before we can say that the industry has fully turned the page on the pandemic.
“Parts of the economic ecosystem upon which some shops depend have yet to reopen – including some eateries, cinemas and city centre offices. The cost of operating stores remains higher too in order to keep customers safe, given the need to spend on physical distancing and hygiene measures and PPE for staff.
“As such, the next few months remain challenging. That’s why we encourage shoppers to make a point of getting out and supporting their favourite stores over the coming weeks, in turn helping to sustain these businesses and the local jobs they provide, as well as the vitality of our retail destinations.”
Search for pensioner missing overnight in Aberdeen
The 75-year-old was last seen at around 10am on Thursday.
A search is underway for a pensioner who has been missing overnight in Aberdeen.
Robin Green, from the city’s West End, was last seen at Craigton Park at around 10am on Thursday.
Concern is now growing over the 75-year-old’s welfare as police appeal for the public’s help.
He is described as being around 5ft11ins with a slight build and grey hair.
Sergeant Elizabeth Irvine from North East Division said: “We are becoming increasingly concerned for Robin’s welfare and safety and we are anxious to trace him safe and well.
“He is known to frequent the Deeside area, from Banchory to Braemar, extending to the Glenshee area, where he engages in hill walking. I would ask residents in these communities to check their gardens, streets and outhouses for any signs of Mr Green.
“I would urge anyone who may have seen Robin, or who has any information on his whereabouts to contact officers through 101.”
Research by Scottish dinosaur expert shows links with birds
Scientists used CT scans of the skulls of living bird species held in National Museums of Scotland collections.
A tiny dinosaur that lived in the desert had extraordinary vision and owl-like hearing that enabled it to hunt in the dark, new research has found.
Scientists have long wondered whether theropod dinosaurs – the group that gave rise to modern birds – had sensory adaptations similar to those of birds which enable them to hunt prey at night.
A new study sought to investigate how the vision and hearing abilities of dinosaurs and birds compared and discovered that a theropod named Shuvuuia, part of a group known as alvarezsaurs, had both extraordinary hearing and night vision.
The international team of researchers used CT scanning and detailed measurements to collect information on the relative size of the eyes and inner ears of nearly 100 living bird and extinct dinosaur species.
The research follows pioneering work by Dr Stig Walsh, senior curator of vertebrate palaeobiology at National Museums Scotland (NMS), into the brains and senses of fossil birds, and used CT scans of the skulls of living bird species held in NMS collections.
Dr Walsh said: “I’m pleased to have been part of this important piece of research. Birds are the only surviving direct descendants of the dinosaurs, and so it makes sense to look at the characteristics of living birds today when we’re thinking about how different species of dinosaurs might have lived and adapted.
“In this case we’ve shown that, just like owls and other birds today, some dinosaurs would have been active and hunted at night, which is really interesting.
“The study also shows again the value of comprehensive natural history collections like the one we have here at National Museums Scotland.”
Shuvuuia was a small dinosaur, about the size of a chicken, and lived in the deserts of what is now Mongolia more than 65 million years ago.
To analyse hearing, the team measured the length of the lagena – the organ which processes incoming sound information which is called the cochlea in mammals.
The barn owl, which can hunt in complete darkness using hearing alone, has the proportionally longest lagena of any bird.
To assess vision, the team looked at the scleral ring, a series of bones surrounding the pupil, of each species. Like a camera lens, the larger the pupil can open, the more light can get in, enabling better vision at night.
By measuring the diameter of the ring, the scientists could tell how much light the eye can gather.
The team found many carnivorous theropods such as Tyrannosaurus and Dromaeosaurus had vision optimized for the daytime, and better-than-average hearing presumably to help them hunt.
However they discovered Shuvuuia had an extremely large lagena, almost identical in relative size to today’s barn owl, suggesting it could have hunted in complete darkness.
The study, published in the journal Science, was led by Professor Jonah Choiniere of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Dr James Neenan, the joint first author of the study, said: “As I was digitally reconstructing the Shuvuuia skull, I couldn’t believe the lagena size. I called Prof Choiniere to have a look.
“We both thought it might be a mistake, so I processed the other ear – only then did we realise what a cool discovery we had on our hands.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing when I got there – dinosaur ears weren’t supposed to look like that.”
With the new data on Shuvuuia’s senses, the scientific team believes it would have foraged at night.
The University of Oxford, the American Museum of Natural History and George Washington University were also involved in the study.