Taskforce to discuss fishing sector’s Brexit export ‘issues’

New group aims to 'work collaboratively across UK and Scottish governments' when it meets for first time this week.

Taskforce to help fishing sector’s Brexit export ‘issues’ to meet. Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
Taskforce to help fishing sector’s Brexit export ‘issues’ to meet.

A new group set up by the UK Government in a bid to resolve the export “issues” Scotland’s fishing and seafood sectors have faced in the wake of Brexit will meet for the first time this week.

Scotland Office minister David Duguid said the taskforce would aim to “work collaboratively across UK and Scottish governments”.

It is due to meet fortnightly, with the first talks coming after industry leaders accused the UK Government of being “in denial” about the scale of the problem fishermen face exporting their catch to the European Union.

James Withers, chief executive at Scottish Food and Drink, told MPs on the Scottish Affairs Committee it had been a “dreadful first few weeks” due to problems with paperwork and IT systems crashing.

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The introduction of new checks and paperwork since the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31 has caused disruption to exports of fresh fish and seafood to the EU.

Producers have expressed frustration at the lack of Government action, while last month seafood hauliers protested against the Brexit fishing deal by stacking lorries in central London.

Mr Duguid promised the new taskforce would be “action-oriented” as it worked to ensure that “medium and longer-term export issues are resolved”.

The Scottish Seafood Exports Task Force will bring together representatives from the UK Government and the catching, processing and aquaculture sectors – with the Scottish Government also invited to take part at both ministerial and official level.

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Mr Duguid has now written to the Scottish Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, to ask if he and his officials can take part in the first meeting this week.

Mr Duguid said: “We have had extensive consultations with the industry and have been working day and night to resolve issues around the new arrangements for getting our world-class seafood to customers in Europe.

“From this ongoing consultation with industry representatives, I believe that the gap they would like us to fill would comprise an action-oriented group. This will work collaboratively across UK and Scottish governments, increasing confidence in the seafood and aquaculture supply chain by ensuring that medium and longer-term export issues are resolved.”

He insisted: “I am clear about the need for action. I want the taskforce to track the export process to identify issues stopping or delaying export, and areas of complexity that are not yet well understood.

“We want to seek a common understanding on the export process and address concerns by developing solutions to be taken forward by the UK Government, Scottish Government and EU.

“And we want to ensure there is effective communication with the industry to ensure traders are aware of issues and of solutions.”

Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Although it has been over a month since the end of the Brexit transition period, I am pleased the UK Government has finally listened to our calls and is establishing a taskforce to deal with the serious challenges faced by the seafood industry in Scotland.

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“If it is to be effective, it will need the full engagement of UK Departments including Defra and HMRC, whose systems and processes are the source of much of the frustration encountered by fishermen and processors in all parts of the UK.

“Businesses that have had to cope with the closure of hospitality and loss of markets due to coronavirus (Covid-19) have faced weeks of pain, stress, frustration and anger with Brexit, border disruptions and barriers to trade. Industry estimates that as much as £1 million a day is being lost by the seafood industry alone and with every day that passes new issues emerge.

“One of the first issues for this taskforce should be establishing the detail of the UK Government’s £23m compensation scheme for fishermen. More than two weeks on from the announcement, we are still waiting to hear the detail, never mind hear when the payments will be made.”

Donna Fordyce, chief executive of Seafood Scotland, said: “The Scottish seafood industry has this week reached the peak of the export crisis and the promise of action, while weeks later than all had hoped, is welcome.

“What the seafood industry is experiencing goes far beyond ‘teething problems’ and needs real solutions, delivered quickly.”

She added: “The challenge that lies ahead is to fix systems and red tape both here and in the EU that have so far failed seafood exporters from all over the UK, with the devastating impacts becoming clearer as each day goes by.”

Holyrood pays tribute to ‘extraordinary’ Duke of Edinburgh

Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, passed away on Friday morning at Windsor Castle.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon led tributes to the late Duke of Edinburgh at Holyrood.

The Scottish Parliament was recalled on Monday for only the sixth time in its history so as MSPs could show their respect to Prince Philip in a motion of condolence.

The 99-year-old, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, passed away on Friday morning at Windsor Castle.

The Duke and the Queen were married for more than 70 years and Philip dedicated decades of his life to royal duty, serving the nation at the monarch’s side.

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Royal: Holyrood paid tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh.
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Following a one-minute silence in remembrance, Sturgeon said: “The tributes paid to the Duke of Edinburgh over these last three days show the affection in which he was held here in Scotland, across the United Kingdom and indeed around the world.

“On behalf of the people of Scotland I express my deepest sympathy to Her Majesty The Queen, who is grieving the loss of her strength and stay, her husband of almost 74 years, and also to the Duke’s children and to the wider Royal Family.”

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Holyrood: A minute’s silence was held for the Duke of Edinburgh.

The First Minister highlighted his life-saving efforts during the Second World War, and like so many of his generation the Duke had “endured difficulties and faced dangers that generations since can barely comprehend”.

Sturgeon described the relationship between The Queen and the Duke as a “true partnership”.

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She said: “He faced the additional challenge of being the husband of a powerful woman at a time when that was even more of an exception than it is today.

“That reversal of the more traditional dynamic was highly unusual in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, and even now isn’t as common as it might be.

“Yet, the Duke of Edinburgh was devoted to supporting the Queen – they were a true partnership.”

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Braemar Gathering: The Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.

The FM said she enjoyed speaking to the Duke about the books they were reading when she would stay at Balmoral.

She added: “He was a thoughtful man, deeply interesting and fiercely intelligent.

“He was also a serious book worm, which I am too, so talking about the books we were reading was often for me a real highlight of our conversations.”

Sturgeon highlighted his interest in industry and science and said he was “far-sighted” in his early support for conservation.

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She added: “Indeed, as far back as 1969 in a speech here in Edinburgh he warned of the risks of ‘virtually indestructible’ plastics.

“Of course, in 1956 he founded the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme which now every year provides opportunity, hope and inspiration to more than one million young people in more than 100 countries across the world.”

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Just married: Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip on their wedding day.

The First Minister said “it is right that our parliament pays tribute” to the Duke.

She added: “In doing so, we mourn his passing and we extend our deepest sympathy to Her Majesty The Queen and her family.

“We reflect on his distinguished war-time record, his love and support for The Queen and his decades of public service to Scotland, the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.

“Above all, we celebrate and we honour an extraordinary life.”

The Scottish Conservatives’ Ruth Davidson said she couldn’t imagine what “it is like to be married to someone for 73 years”.

She added: “And I can’t imagine what it is to have to get up and face every future day without them – what that absence feels like.

“And I think the recognition of the enormity of such a loss is what has led so many over the past few days to look past the titles and the 41 gun salutes and have such a sense of feeling for Her Majesty on such a human level.”

Davidson described the Duke as a “dashing young naval officer” who went on to become a “palace moderniser”.

She said: “He was a man that was born before the discovery of penicillin, before the creation of the United Nations or the invention of the television or the jet engine.

“But a moderniser he was in life, as well as in work. How many men in the 1950s gave up their job for their wife’s career?”

She also recalled how he had once asked former Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie about her underwear, at an event in Holyrood held to mark Pope Benedict’s visit to Scotland.

Davidson said: “Seeing Iain Gray [former Scottish Labour leader] sporting a tie in the papal tartan, the Duke turned to Tory leader Annabel Goldie to ask if she had a pair of knickers made out of this.

“Quite properly, Annabel retorted, ‘I couldn’t possibly comment, and even if I did I couldn’t possibly exhibit them’.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said he’d “never had the privilege” of meeting Prince Philip, so didn’t have a personal anecdote to share.

However he retold the story of a man called Jon Watts, who was jailed at the age of 17.

Sarwar said: “Jon recalled ‘there was lots of alcohol and no aspirations for people like me’, is what he said.

“But while in prison he came across the Duke of Edinburgh’s award, which he said gave him a new sense of direction.

“He camped out for his first award not on a Scottish mountainside, but in a tent on the artificial grass of a prison football pitch.

“Jon went on to get the bronze, silver and gold award while serving a six-year sentence.

“The skill he learned during the programme was cooking, and upon leaving prison he set up his very own catering business, now helping other young people to learn new skills and find jobs. ‘It saved my life’, Jon said last week.

“That’s just one life that the Prince helped save; there will be countless others from different walks of life.”

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Edinburgh: Members of the 105th Regiment Royal Artillery fire a 41-round gun salute.

Patrick Harvie, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, also paid tribute despite the party wishing for an elected head of state.

Highlighting all the lives lost during the coronavirus pandemic, he added: “Today is a moment to extend our thoughts to Prince Philip’s family and to all those who are grieving for their loved ones in a spirit of respect for the equal value of every human life.”

Scottish Lib Dems leader Willie Rennie recalled a meeting in which Prince Philip asked him about a “little blue man” badge he used to wear.

He said: “The Duke of Edinburgh spotted it at a reception. He bounced up, demanding to know what it was. ‘To show support for the prostate cancer campaign’, I said.

“He looked at me closely. He says, ‘have you got it or are you against it?’ Then he bounced off again.

“The engagement was only 30 seconds long, but it has stayed with me and to be retold numerous times over the years.

“It seems that he left lasting impressions with so many others too. Some less repeatable than others, but so many were fun and memorable.”

William pays tribute to ‘extraordinary’ grandfather Philip

The Duke of Cambridge says Philip's life was defined by service to country, Commonwealth, Queen and family.

Duchess of Cambridge via Kensington Palace
Prince Philip with his great-grandson Prince George.

The Duke of Cambridge has paid a heartfelt tribute to his grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, describing him as an “extraordinary man and part of an extraordinary generation”.

William’s statement spoke of Philip’s relationship with Kate and expressed his gratitude for the “kindness he showed her”.

The future king summed up the duke saying his “…life was defined by service – to his country and Commonwealth, to his wife and Queen, and to our family”.

Over the weekend the duke’s four children spoke movingly about the loss of their father and how the Queen is stoically coping after her husband of 73 years died peacefully on Friday.

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Prince Harry, Prince Phillip and Prince William in 2015.
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The duke said about Philip: “My grandfather’s century of life was defined by service – to his country and Commonwealth, to his wife and Queen, and to our family.

“I feel lucky to have not just had his example to guide me, but his enduring presence well into my own adult life – both through good times and the hardest days.

“I will always be grateful that my wife had so many years to get to know my grandfather and for the kindness he showed her.

“I will never take for granted the special memories my children will always have of their great-grandpa coming to collect them in his carriage and seeing for themselves his infectious sense of adventure as well as his mischievous sense of humour!

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“My grandfather was an extraordinary man and part of an extraordinary generation. Catherine and I will continue to do what he would have wanted and will support The Queen in the years ahead. I will miss my Grandpa, but I know he would want us to get on with the job.”

Kensington Palace tweeted the duke’s statement together with a touching new photograph of a young Prince George with his great-grandfather Philip.

George, a future King, was pictured sat by the duke’s side on the box seat of a carriage, as Philip held the reins and a whip.

Dressed in shorts and a knitted jumper, George is holding open a picture book in the taken in Norfolk in 2015.

The Duke of Sussex also paid tribute to his grandfather, saying he was “a man of service, honour and great humour”.

In a statement issued through his foundation Archewell, Prince Harry said: “My grandfather was a man of service, honour and great humour. He was authentically himself, with a seriously sharp wit, and could hold the attention of any room due to his charm—and also because you never knew what he might say next.

“He will be remembered as the longest reigning consort to the Monarch, a decorated serviceman, a Prince and a Duke. But to me, like many of you who have lost a loved one or grandparent over the pain of this past year, he was my grandpa: master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right ‘til the end.

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“He has been a rock for Her Majesty The Queen with unparalleled devotion, by her side for 73 years of marriage, and while I could go on, I know that right now he would say to all of us, beer in hand, ‘Oh do get on with it!’

“So, on that note, Grandpa, thank you for your service, your dedication to Granny, and for always being yourself. You will be sorely missed, but always remembered—by the nation and the world. Meghan, Archie, and I (as well as your future great-granddaughter) will always hold a special place for you in our hearts.

“‘Per Mare, Per Terram.’”

Man arrested after blaze rips through community centre

Emergency services were called to a charity-run eco village in Findhorn in the early hours of Monday morning.

© Google Maps 2020
Blaze: Extensive damage to community centre following fire.

A man has been arrested after a fire ripped through a community centre in Moray. 

Emergency services were called to The Park, an ecovillage run by the Findhorn Foundation, in the early hours of Monday morning following reports of a fire.

Six appliances were sent to the scene alongside specialist resources in order to extinguish the blaze.

Police have confirmed a 49-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident.

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A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said: “We were alerted at 2am on Monday, April 12 to reports of a fire within the Findhorn Foundation Park, Findhorn, Forres, Moray.

“Operations Control mobilised six fire appliances as well as specialist resources to the scene to extinguish the fire.

“There were no reported casualties.

“Firefighters left after ensuring the area was safe.”

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The foundation said “extensive damage” has been caused to the community centre and main sanctuary at the eco village.

In a statement on Facebook, Findhorn Foundation said: “We’re so sad to tell you that there was a serious fire here in the early hours of the morning, causing extensive damage to the community centre and the main sanctuary. 

“Thankfully no-one has been hurt.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We were called around 2.05am on Monday, 12 April to a report of a fire at a community centre in The Park, Findhorn, Moray. 

“A 49-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident and enquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances.”


Parts of Scotland experience ‘coldest April night’ on record

Sunshine, snow and hail combined for a twist on an April shower this weekend.

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April cools: Areas across the country recorded the coldest April night in around 30 years.

Parts of Scotland have recorded the coldest April night in around 30 years with temperatures dropping to almost -10C.

People across the country were left baffled when sunshine, snow and hail combined for a twist on an April shower this weekend.

On Saturday night the mercury fell to -6C in Aberdeenshire and as low as -8C in the north and west Highlands.

Temperatures dropped even lower on Sunday night, with Monday morning being an April record-breaker for some areas,

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Tulloch Bridge in the Highlands was the coldest spot with a low of -9.4C recorded, which is almost a whole degree lower than the record for April. Records here go back almost 30 years.

Even further south the temperatures hit the extreme end of cold for April with a low of -7.4C in Tyndrum, -4.5C in Islay, -4.3C in Edinburgh and -4C at Bishopton in Renfrewshire. The lows in Tyndrum and Islay look like new records.

While Scotland has had local records, the all-time record has been safe, with -15.4C recorded back in 1917 at Eskdalemuir in Dumfries and Galloway.

STV Meteorologist Sean Batty said: “Cold and snowy weather in April and May can come as a big shock, but this part of spring can be very volatile with some huge day-to-day swings in temperature.

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“So far this year it seems we’ve lacked the extreme warmer spells where we can get the BBQ and sun loungers out, and it’s been more typical to be bundled up against an icy wind.

‘I’ve got bad news for those of you hankering after the other end of extreme, I don’t think we’ll be hitting the 20s until May.’

STV Meteorologist Sean Batty

“In the last few weeks, we’ve had some abnormally cold conditions but we’ve not been alone with central and western Europe colder than usual – including Spain where there was some extreme heat recently.

“Most of the country had some snow showers during the weekend, and where skies cleared at night, there were some very low temperatures.

“As we go through this week it will feel warmer by day with temperatures getting back into double digits by the end of the week, but frosts will still occur by night, although temperatures won’t be as low as recent nights.”

Sean added: “I’ve got bad news for those of you hankering after the other end of extreme, I don’t think we’ll be hitting the 20s until May.”


Boy, 11, reported missing after leaving home for school

Charlie Durkin was last seen leaving his house in Lossiemouth at around 8.30am on Monday morning.

Police Scotland
Charlie Durkin has gone missing from his home in Lossiemouth.

An 11-year-old boy has gone missing in the north east of Scotland.

Charlie Durkin was last seen leaving his house on North Covesea Terrace in Lossiemouth at around 8.30am on Monday morning.

Police believe he was walking to school and are appealing for information about his whereabouts.

Charlie may also have returned home to collect a bright pink coloured bicycle.

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As well as his home town, Charlie is known to frequent the Elgin area.

He is described as slim, around 5ft 2in, and was wearing a school uniform comprising of a black puffa-style jacket, white shirt, black trousers, and black and white coloured Nike trainers.

He is also believed to have a black and white coloured Vans rucksack in his possession.

Anyone who has seen Charlie or who may have knowledge of his whereabouts is asked to contact police on 101 and quote incident 0916 of April 12.

Coronavirus: No further deaths as cases rise by 199 overnight

According to NHS boards across Scotland, 154 people are currently in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19.

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Covid-19: The fight to stop the spread of the deadly virus goes on.

A further 199 cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Scotland, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

While cases are often lower following a weekend, the figure is the smallest number of new cases since 70 were recorded on September 14.

No additional deaths have been reported.

The death toll of those who tested positive stands at 7630, however weekly figures on suspected Covid-19 deaths recorded by National Records of Scotland suggest the most up-to-date total is now more than 10,000.

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The daily test positivity rate is 2.4%, up from the 1.8% reported on Sunday when 250 cases were recorded.

Of the new cases reported on Monday, 67 are in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region, 28 are in Lothian, 28 are in Lanarkshire, and 21 are in Fife.

The rest of the cases are spread out across six other health board areas.

According to NHS boards across Scotland, 154 people are currently in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19. Out of those, 21 patients are in intensive care.

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The Scottish Government also confirmed that 2,668,723 Scots have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, an increase of 11,145 from the day before.

A total of 590,174 people have received their second dose, a rise of 21,299.


Sheriff court summary trials to resume from April 19

The hearings, for less serious criminal cases, will recommence with mandatory face masks and physical distancing.

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Less serious criminal cases are to fully resume in Scotland’s courts from April 19.

Less serious criminal cases are to fully resume in Scotland’s courts after more than three months of suspension owing to lockdown.

Sheriff court summary criminal cases – where a sheriff hears a case sitting alone without a jury – are to recommence from next Monday, said the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS).

Most summary trials, under which the maximum jail term is 12 months and the biggest fine is £10,000, have been halted since January because of coronavirus restrictions.

Criminal courts have been prioritising the most serious trials, for crimes like rape and murder.

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The SCTS is currently grappling with a backlog of cases due to the pandemic and last month announced plans for more court capacity to clear the pile-up.

It predicted even with the extra resources, summary trial backlogs may not be cleared until 2024, while the logjam of trials at the high court and in sheriff solemn cases – where a sheriff sits with a jury – may not be cleared until 2025.

From September, there will be four additional high courts, two additional sheriff courts for solemn cases and up to ten more sheriff courts for summary cases.

SCTS chief executive Eric McQueen said: “The safety of staff, judiciary and court users remains our top priority and is central to our plans to safely resume court business on April 19.

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“Based on the latest Covid data, we are taking a cautious approach to restore summary criminal business to pre-January lockdown levels, in line with the wider phased easing of restrictions announced by the Scottish Government.”

The SCTS said physical distancing and mask-wearing is mandatory in its buildings.

It added that justice of the peace courts, which hear minor cases and can impose punishments of up to 60 days in prison or fines up to £2500, are expected to restart all matters on June 7.

Brown calls on G7 to spearhead global vaccination push

Former PM says the mass vaccination of the world should be primary focus of the G7 summit in Cornwall.

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The G7 nations should commit £22bn a year as part of a “Herculean” push for global vaccination, Gordon Brown has said.

The former prime minister has called for the mass vaccination of the world to be the primary focus of the G7 summit, which starts on June 11 in Cornwall.

US president Joe Biden is expected to attend the event, along with the other G7 leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the EU.

Brown said: “Nobody is safe anywhere until everybody is safe everywhere. If the disease keeps spreading in Africa and Asia it will come back and haunt us here, it will mutate and we’ll still be in trouble several years from now.

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“So it makes sense not only for us to help ourselves but to help get the vaccination done in other countries, and at the moment although 70 or 80% of adults in Britain are being vaccinated, it’s less than 1% in sub-Saharan Africa and only a few are getting access to the vaccines and we’ve got to do something different.

“So, the G7 meets in Britain in a few weeks’ time, Boris Johnson is chairing it, they’re the richest countries, they should come to an agreement; we’ll pay 60% of the costs, then Russia, China, the oil states and all the other countries like Scandinavia can do more we could pay to vaccinate the world if we come together and club together to meet the cost.”

Vaccines are currently shared internationally under the World Health Organisation-backed Covax programme, which is working to provide vaccines for low and middle-income countries.

However, Brown said the issue is not a shortage in the number of vaccines, but the “shortage of money to pay for them”, adding the funds needed to end the global crisis “are a fraction of the trillions Covid is costing us”.

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Writing in The Guardian, Brown says the G7 nations must spearhead a “Herculean mobilisation” of pharmaceutical companies, national militaries and health workers to reach the “greatest number of people in the shortest time across the widest geography.”

He writes: “As things stand, affluent countries accounting for 18% of the world’s population have bought 4.6 billion doses – 60% of confirmed orders. About 780 million vaccines have been administered to date, but less than 1% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa have been injected.

“Immunising the West but only a fraction of the developing world is already fuelling allegations of ‘vaccine apartheid’, and will leave Covid-19 spreading, mutating and threatening the lives and livelihoods of us all for years to come.”

“We need to spend now to save lives, and we need to spend tomorrow to carry on vaccinating each year until the disease no longer claims lives. And this will require at least 30 billion dollars (£22bn) a year, a bill no one so far seems willing to fully underwrite.”

Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to the Government, told Sky News: “Wherever there is disease, we know there is a risk – it is in our self-interest to get vaccination occurring around the world.

“Wherever it occurs in the world, whatever we do, it will arrive here.

“The notion, put forward by Gordon Brown, that the G7 ought to be supporting international vaccination is really top rate. We must support that.”

Coronavirus: Some high school pupils return to class full-time

Pupils in Aberdeen, Fife, Dumfries and Galloway, Moray, Shetland and the Western Isles are back to in-person learning.

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Secondary school pupils in some council areas are back to full-time in-person learning.

High school pupils in some local authority areas are returning to the classroom full-time on Monday.

Pupils in Aberdeen, Fife, Dumfries and Galloway, Moray, Shetland and the Western Isles are back to in-person learning.

They will no longer have to adhere to strick two metre social distancing rules but other mitigations have been strengthened.

Face masks must be worn in all areas – classrooms, corridors and communal areas. This applies to S1-S3 pupils – not just those in the senior phase of their school education (S4-S6) – unless medically exempt.

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Furthermore, twice-weekly lateral flow tests are available for all secondary school pupils.

The majoirty of schools in Scotland are still on their Easter break and most pupils will return full time from next Monday. April 19.

Pupils in Edinburgh and Midlothian council areas will return the following day, on April 20.

Only those who are shielding will have to wait longer until they can resume face-to-face lessons.

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Scotland’s primary pupils returned to class full-time in stages during February and March, while most high-school students were seeing teachers in-person on a part-time basis.

This year’s National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exams have been cancelled, with results being awarded instead through coursework and assessment.

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