Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 546

Issue # 546                                                                    Week ending Saturday 4th   April  2020

With My Crumpled Shirts and Bowl Cuts, this is Like Being Back in the 1970s
by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Have you noticed the weather is getting better? March and April would normally still be very cold and you should still be wearing your thermal underwear for another month after that. Hence the saying: “Ne’er cast a cloot till May is oot.” Guess what. It’s not so cold this year but, and here’s the thing, we cannot really go outside to enjoy the day. This virus has put paid to all that.

A bright, hot sun is trying to break through the clouds over the Minch. Or maybe it just seems nicer because we are stuck inside.

Strange things are happening as the isolation continues. Younger people latch onto these new rules quickly but it’s the er, more mature people - and I include myself in that - who sometimes have a senior moment and forget they have to stay in all the time. It’s a complete role reversal when you hear someone’s grand-daughter shouting at him: “Hey, what are you doing out there? Get in here now.”

Mrs X is not happy when she has nothing to do. She mopes about the house because there is little demand for her job as a photographer and I could do with a nice crisp shirt to wear when I’m watching these government advisers. Sir Patrick Vallance is the Government Chief Scientific Adviser and, of course, Professor Chris Whitty, who is England's Chief Medical Officer, was a regular on the box until he too had to self-isolate. You can’t watch people like that while wearing a stained t-shirt.

She doesn’t like ironing, though. Maybe I was too demanding in the early years of our marriage. Apparently, insisting that my socks and y-fronts be presented to me with a single sharp crease each morning was a step too far. I’m paying the price now. No creases at all. I understand and I am not upset. It’s cool - like our iron.

Now I pad about in my crumpled shirt and uncomfortable pants and I am beginning to look forward to taking out the bins. Och aye, it’ll be a wee outing. It’s so nice to get out of the house but I will have to get back in quick before the lorry comes. The binmen are a friendly bunch and we could end up laughing, giggling and possibly getting closer to each other than the laid-down 80 inches. Oh heck, we can’t have that.

Phone calls are another thing. They take so long now because there is little to do but talk. It’s not as if you can cut it short by saying you have a bus to catch. There’s nowhere to go. Everybody thinks you have nothing else to do - even if you say you’re working from home. Nobody believes that. Of course, I have been working from home for many years but nobody believes that I actually do any work as I am not in a town centre office.
Oh really? Do these hundreds of words in this column somehow magically get joined together by the tooth fairy? However, apart from writing, I have little to do. Our van deliveries are suspended, Mrs X’s upcoming weddings have been postponed and now repeats of Only Fools and Horses are on the Gold channel all week long to prevent us all spending the entire day slurping in the kitchen. Dominic Cummings probably arranged that. He seems to be arranging pretty much everything else - and he too is working from home.

My hair is getting straggly. Time for a haircut soon. The barbers are all shut so Mrs X will have to get out the pudding bowl and snip round the edges. Bowl cuts were fashionable in the early 1970s. We could make them trendy again. Then again, maybe not. Isn’t it strange that you can help save the entire human race by spending the whole day doing nothing? You know what, this chance won’t come round again. Let’s not mess it up.

One day we will look back on all this and bore our children and grandchildren like Uncle Albert does in Only Fools. His sentences usually start: “During the war ...” What will we say in years to come? “During the Great Self-Isolation of 2020...”?  Could be. I will probably tell them: “Yes, children. Things were really bad back in 2020 - but not bad enough to get Mrs X ironing. She was determined to stand up against all threats and all the temptations. She was a fine woman. Did you hear that, hon? Are you putting the kettle on?”

We may be only a few weeks in but I am getting stir crazy. It is going on for too long now. It is really getting to me but I am trying hard not to let it show. I have even had to put up a notice which let people know I’m not happy. It says: “Keep out of this office. Please respect my personal space or you will be in serious trouble.” It then says: “This has nothing to do with coronavirus. I am just a cantankerous old misery guts.”

City-dwellers Fleeing to Remote Areas Are Told to Go Home

In the Outer Hebrides, a remote island chain off the west coast of Scotland, there has yet to be a confirmed case of the coronavirus. But local leaders are worried.  An image shared by lawmaker Angus MacNeil paints a bleak picture of preparedness there: a primitive row of camp beds, each with a thin red blanket and blue pillow, sitting empty in a village hall. No ventilators, no testing kits.  MacNeil’s message, and that of officials across Scotland’s typically tourist-friendly Highlands and Islands region, is clear: Do not come.  But people have not been listening. Last weekend saw a spike in arrivals at northern Scotland’s world-renowned sites of natural beauty. Mountain trails were bustling, campsites full, and mobile-home parks at capacity.  Some were fleeing the boredom of self-isolation. Others seem to have been taking more permanent measures, traveling to secluded second homes or parking up motorhomes.  Scotland like the rest of the U.K., is now in near-total lockdown. All but essential travel is prohibited, with strict daily limits on outdoor exercise. Those who have hunkered down in the countryside have been told to head home.  For many, that means returning to one of Scotland’s major cities, where infection numbers are higher. Leaving behind these densely populated areas, many in recent days have headed to Cairngorms National Park — a sprawling area of wilderness in the nation’s northeast that’s bigger than Rhode Island.  “This weekend [saw] an unprecedented surge in visitors ... in particular to beauty spots and communities, as people disregarded the government guidance on essential travel,” said Grant Moir, the park authority’s chief executive.  Outdoor exercise is as important as ever, he said, but only when conducted in accordance with government orders: within the vicinity of an individual's house and respecting social distancing rules. “Coming to the Highlands doesn’t make you isolated from COVID-19,” Moir said. “You can’t get away from this.”  It’s a sentiment shared by local inhabitants. In Ballater, a picturesque town on the park's eastern fringe, there are worries that scant supplies of food could become even scarcer if people who live elsewhere flood the area.“We have limited resources in a small village like this,” said Cheryl Barr, who owns an ice cream parlor. “Not just us, in all small villages and small communities.”  Concerned for Ballater’s elderly and ill, Barr and a group of others have started delivering groceries and prescriptions to those unable to leave their homes. Dozens of volunteers have offered to help, Barr said, illustrating the “community spirit” that binds the town in times of hardship. But in a pandemic, goodwill can only go so far. The nearest hospital — 11 miles away in Aboyne, a larger town — is for minor injuries only. To reach an intensive care unit, locals would have to drive an hour to Aberdeen, Scotland’s third-largest city.  “As a small village we’re not in the best position to be equipped for an outbreak like this, for the immediate people who live here let alone any outside characters contributing to that,” Barr added.  Her worries are echoed at the highest levels of Scotland’s government. “Let me be crystal clear, people should not be traveling to rural and island communities full stop. They are endangering lives,” said lawmaker Fergus Ewing, who has responsibility for tourism and the rural economy.“Panic-buying will have a devastating impact on the livelihoods of rural shops and potentially puts unwanted pressure on NHS services in our rural communities,” Ewing added, referring to the National Health Service.  Back in the Outer Hebrides, there is some welcome news. Ferries connecting islands to the mainland will run only for local residents and to carry nonresidents off the islands. Flights to-and-from Scotland’s major cities to the area’s tiny airstrips remain open, however.  Until all travel ceases, many people living in Scotland’s remote and rural communities — usually reliant on the lifeblood of tourism — will not feel safe

Three New Cases in Shetland
Two residents in a Shetland care home and an unconnected patient at Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick have tested positive for Covid-19.  NHS Shetland said their families have been informed and they are being cared for in isolation.  It added that over a few hours on Saturday it had been notified that other care home residents in different locations had also begun displaying flu-like symptoms.  The Walls Health Centre has also been closed to seeing patients after a member of staff developed symptoms and went into self-isolation. Patients can still call the surgery for information and advice.  NHS Shetland Chief Executive Michael Dickson said It was imperative that everyone in Shetland stayed away from care homes unless they were there to work or provide an essential service.  “Do not be lulled into a false sense of security. Wash your hands, maintain social distancing and obey the constraints of the lockdown. Our NHS can cope but not with an onslaught of cases,” he said.

Edinburgh Hospital 'Calm, Controlled and Ready'
A consultant at an Edinburgh hospital says it is "calm, controlled and ready" to deal with an increase in patients who have contracted coronavirus.  Prof Simon Maxwell said there were not the "apocalyptic" scenes that people might be imagining.  He said the Western General Hospital site was "quieter than it's ever been in the 23 years I have worked here.  Most outpatient clinics are suspended," he said. "Ward visiting is strictly limited."  He added: "There are many empty beds now being held in readiness for what is to come."  Prof Maxwell said "phenomenal" work had been carried out to prepare the hospital, and that it was "heartening" to see how all the staff had come together.  "We seem to be a few days behind London," he said. "The current position is not apocalyptic.  The front door of the hospital is calm, controlled and ready to receive the many patients that will inevitably arrive shortly." He suspected that many members of the public were staying away, in part to avoid pressuring the service at a busy time, but also because of concerns about possible contact with coronavirus.  "I'm sure all of my colleagues at the hospital appreciate the support of the public during this difficult time," he added.  "That support has manifested itself in many ways, not least the applause in the street on Thursday night.  The best way for that support to continue is to be effectively following the government's advice on social distancing."  He also said it was important to "keep things in perspective".  "Many more people have died in recent weeks of heart disease, strokes, dementia and other illnesses than from Covid-19," he said.

New Justice Centre to Be 'Hub' During Virus Fight

The new Inverness Justice Centre has opened.  The building in the city's Longman means courts business can cease at Inverness Castle. The castle is eventually to be turned into a tourist attraction.  The immediate focus of the Inverness Justice Centre will be for the Crown and courts service to "prioritise critical business" during the coronavirus outbreak.  It will operate as one of 10 court "hubs" supporting the delivery of justice services during the pandemic.  Courts have already ceased jury trials, adjourned all but essential criminal and civil hearings to reduce the need for physical attendance at court.

21,000 Scots Sign Up to Volunteer
More than 21,000 healthy Scots have signed up to become volunteers to support vulnerable people in their area during the coronavirus pandemic.  People are being asked to go to the Ready Scotland website if they wish to provide practical or emotional help.  The drive is the focus of the Scottish government's new Scotland Cares campaign.  The first minister said the help provided by volunteers would be "invaluable".  People who wish to become volunteers have three options:   Returning NHS workers will be directed to existing voluntary arrangements in NHS Scotland.  People wishing to offer their support to our public services, including the NHS and local authorities, will be directed to a site co-ordinated by the British Red Cross.  Those looking for opportunities with other charities or community groups in their area will be directed to Volunteer Scotland for information.  Since the website launched on Monday. more than 8,000 volunteers have signed up through the Red Cross while a further 11,000 indicated they wanted to work with existing charities and groups.  The Scottish government said there were also about 2,000 people who had suggested they had the skills and qualifications to work in the NHS.  First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "I want to thank each and every person who has registered an interest.  The offer of support at this critical time is invaluable.  The response we have had to this call for applications is indicative I think of a wider point - many people across Scotland are responding to this difficult period by showing a sense of community and solidarity".

Virus Hits Plans for Huge Oil Field Development Off Shetland

Plans to develop a huge oil field off Shetland have been postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.  Siccar Point Energy and joint venture partner Shell UK were due to proceed to a final investment decision on the Cambo field in the third quarter of this year. It is in the the Corona Ridge area, 77 miles (124km) north west of Shetland.  The companies have pushed plans back to the second half of next year, subject to regulatory approval.  In a statement, they said the move was "in light of the unprecedented worldwide macroeconomic dislocation resulting from Covid-19".  Cambo is one of the largest undeveloped fields in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS).  According to Aberdeen-based Siccar Point, it has more than 800 million barrels of oil in place.  Chief executive officer Jonathan Roger said: "Cambo remains an extremely attractive development with compelling economics.  However, given the uncertainty of the global situation, it makes sense to hold-off final approval until some normality returns to the market and a clear and robust path forward can again be established."

Scottish Breweries Fear Lockdown Could Be ‘Disastrous’ for Industry
Concerns have been raised that UK lockdown restrictions during the coronavirus outbreak could be “disastrous” for the brewing industry in Scotland.  Pubs and restaurants were told to shut by the Prime Minister as part of measures to try to stop the spread of Covid-19 on Friday March 20.  Several breweries have reported a surge in online sales since the restrictions were introduced but many expect stock to go to waste and are concerned about being able to survive.  Michael Gladwin, operations director of Black Isle Brewery, based near the Highland village of Munlochy, said: “It’s been massive – we are 95% shutdown, we’re having to rely on online sales of stock we have already produced.  “Probably 95% of our income has disappeared. There are no draught sales whatsoever – all that stock goes to waste.”  The brewery operates a number of bars, which Mr Gladwin said had benefited from the rates relief brought in by the UK Government.  He also praised measures such as the worker retention scheme.  Mr Gladwin added: “Up until the point we were told to close our doors – quite rightly – we did have some working capital.  We can probably make it through the three months and after that we are looking at loans.  I understand it has been very very difficult for smaller brewers. It’s pretty disastrous for us and pub chains alike.”  Midlothian-based Stewart Brewing had to shut two of its bars as a result of the measures but has had a “massive uplift” in online orders.  Social enterprise and beer brand Brewgooder, based in Glasgow, has launched a scheme in which people can donate a drink to NHS staff as a thank-you for their work during the pandemic.  Tennent’s welcomed breweries and distribution centres being able to remain operational during the pandemic.  The firm has also introduced steps to help support licensed premises that may struggle during the outbreak restrictions.  Kenny Gray, Tennent’s managing director said: “We have initiated further measures following the announcement that hospitality outlets must close.  These include committing to a full credit or a swapping of old for new on kegs of Tennent’s beers and ciders on the recommencement of normal trading.  Given the cessation of trade in the on-trade and impact on cash flow, our account managers are reviewing each customer’s account on an individual basis on how we can support during this period.  We have set up a dedicated team to address customer concerns as well as help with advice on accessing Government support.”  He added: “The coronavirus outbreak is a complex and rapidly evolving situation, however, we are committed to working with our customers to continue to look at all measures we can put in place to provide assistance to the industry during this difficult period and beyond.”

Covid-19 Confirmed in Western Isles and Orkney
A single case in Orkney and two in Lewis, in the Western Isles, mean the virus has now been confirmed in all Scottish health board areas.  Details of the island cases have been released by local health boards.  They have not yet been reflected in Scottish government's Scotland-wide figures for confirmed cases.  The Orkney health board released details of its case on Monday and NHS Western Isles on Tuesday.  NHS Orkney's chief executive Gerry O' Brien said confirming the virus, known as Covid-19, was in the islands was "inevitable", but should not cause "additional alarm or distress to anyone".  He said: "We fully understand that the current situation is causing anxiety across Orkney, but we want to reassure people that we have taken and continue to take steps to protect both patients and staff from any unnecessary exposure to Covid-19".  NHS Western Isles said it was "disappointed" to confirm the presence of the virus in the isles and it has begun an investigation into the route of infection.  Along with local authority Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, it urged people to follow government guidance on social distancing and leaving home only when "absolutely essential".  Local MSP Alasdair Allan said his thoughts were with the two people confirmed as having the virus, and their families.  In recent weeks, measures have been taken to try and prevent the spread of coronavirus to the Western Isles.  Ferry services have been reduced and operator Caledonian MacBrayne asked that only islanders used them.  An assessment centre has also been set up in a school and leisure complex in Barra, in the south of the island chain, because of the distance to reach hospital services.

Unclaimed £58m Lottery Ticket Bought in Ayrshire

A EuroMillions lottery jackpot prize of almost £58m has yet to be claimed from a ticket bought in South Ayrshire, it has been announced.  The winning ticket matched all five main numbers and the two Lucky Star numbers in the draw on 17 March.  The winning numbers for the draw were 05, 07, 08, 16 and 20, with the Lucky Stars 2 and 12.  The ticket-holder has until Sunday 13 September to make their claim on the £57,869,670 prize.  Andy Carter, from The National Lottery, said: "We're desperate to find this mystery ticket-holder and unite them with this massive prize which could really make a huge difference to somebody's life. "We're urging everyone who might have bought a EuroMillions ticket in this area to check their old tickets or look for any missing tickets at home."

£6m Boost to Restore East Ayrshire's Coalfield Communities

Communities devastated by the collapse of coal mining have been given a multi-million pound boost to restore the local landscape.  The grants for East Ayrshire total more than £6m. The money will be used to improve the cultural, natural and industrial heritage of the area. Schemes include peatland restoration and reinstatement of hedgerows, as well as an oral history project and a musical celebration of coalfield life.  East Ayrshire's coalfield communities, in common with others around the country, are still coming to terms with the way in which the ending of the industry left them scarred and economically depressed.  Grants of £2.2m from the Coalfield Communities Landscape Partnership (CCLP) and the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) will be added to a further £4m already allocated for landscape and heritage regeneration projects.  Caroline Clark, Scotland director of NLH, said the money would finance 22 community-led projects to significantly improve the cultural, natural and industrial heritage of the area.  She said: "It will help communities across a wide area reconnect with the heritage on their doorstep, strengthening their sense of pride and inspiring stewardship of the land around them.  The industrial history of East Ayrshire means that people often don't recognise that the area is rich in both built and natural heritage." The projects follow earlier work which has included the restoration of old colliery and opencast sites.  The closure of the Dunstonhill opencast pit near Cumnock left the 200-acre site dangerous as the quarry voids filled with water and left significant hazards to neighbouring communities and the local environment.  It has now been completely landscaped and the land returned to a local farmer.  Councillor Jim Roberts, responsible for economy and infrastructure at East Ayrshire Council, said the new tranche of money would provide an opportunity to revitalise life in local communities and reconnect them with their own distinctive landscape.  He said communities could tap into their history, improving knowledge of the present and helping inspire aspirations for the future.  One of the projects set to benefit is the continued redevelopment of Lugar Parish Church to enable it to become more relevant to the local community.  Its minister, Rev John Patterson, said this would involve creating a cafe, disabled toilets, disabled access and heritage information centre within the church building.  He said the work would ensure the building would be "a continuing gift to Lugar that keeps giving as an asset to the whole community."

Temporary Glasgow Coronavirus Hospital 'May Not Be Needed'

A temporary hospital being built at the SEC in Glasgow will hopefully not need to be used, Nicola Sturgeon has said.  The first minister announced earlier this week that the facility should be operational in a fortnight.  But she told MSPs on Wednesday that she hoped the country's existing hospitals would have enough capacity to cope with the coronavirus crisis. Ms Sturgeon also confirmed that a further 16 people with Covid-19 have died, bringing the total to 76. She said there had now been 2,310 confirmed cases of the virus in Scotland, an increase of 317 from Tuesday.  She again stressed that this was an underestimate, and that the actual number would be considerably higher.  The emergency facility at the SEC will be run by the NHS and will initially have capacity for 300 patients, which could be expanded in the future to more than 1,000.  It will be known as NHS Louisa Jordan, after a nurse who served with the Scottish Women's Hospital in Serbia during World War I.  But with an estimated 3,000 hospital beds expected to be available for coronavirus patients in traditional hospitals across Scotland, Ms Sturgeon said it was hoped that none of the beds at the temporary hospital would be needed.  And she paid tribute to people for observing social distancing rules since the UK-wide lockdown was imposed at the start of last week, which she said would be crucial in limiting the demands on the NHS over the next few weeks. She told MSPs: "I know that the last 10 days have not been easy for anyone but, overwhelmingly, people across the country have been doing the right thing. That is not unexpected, but it is heartening and it will continue to be crucial in the weeks to come." Some experts believe that Scotland is behind other parts of the UK, particularly London, in terms of the spread of the virus, and that the lockdown was therefore introduced at an earlier stage of the country's "epidemic curve".  They hope that this could result in Scotland continuing to have a lower death rate than elsewhere in the UK.  Ms Sturgeon said: "Our current modelling of the spread of the virus - which I must stress assumes continued high compliance with the lockdown measures -together with the steps we are taking to increase ICU capacity, suggests our intensive care units are in a much stronger position to cope with the expected peak of the epidemic."  The following figures correct at 12:15 on 2 April 2020 from the Scottish government states there are currently 147 patients with coronavirus being treated in hospital intensive care units (ICU), which Ms Sturgeon said was likely to increase over the next two to three weeks.  ICU capacity across Scotland has doubled to 360 beds, 250 of which will be for the exclusive use of coronavirus patients, with that figure expected to increase to more than 500 this week as work continues towards ultimately quadrupling the number to more than 700 ICU beds.  About 1,900 tests for the virus are being carried out in Scotland every day, with the Scottish government expecting to increase that to 3,500 tests every day within a month.  Ms Sturgeon said: "We are now at the stage of this epidemic, as we expected to be, when the number of cases is rising rapidly and unfortunately that means that the numbers becoming seriously unwell and dying are also, sadly, rising.  We hope that the lockdown measures we are asking people to comply with will have a marked effect on the spread of the virus, and that we will see a slowdown in the next few weeks.  However, given that these measures take some time to have an impact, it is too early to draw any firm conclusions yet and we must continue to plan for what will be a considerable impact on the National Health Service and on wider society."  Ms Sturgeon said ventilators have been ordered "from a range of manufacturers", with these due to be delivered in the coming weeks. NHS boards have been working to repurpose 200 operating theatre anaesthetic machines for use as ventilators to "bridge any gap" in provision ahead of these new ventilators arriving.

Humour Amid Lockdown in the Highlands - Nessie Taking No Chances

Highlanders have clung on to their sense humour as the lockdown in Scotland enters its second week.  A face mask added to a Nessie sculpture on the city's Dores Road in the initial days of the outbreak in Scotland remains in place.  Meanwhile a sign at a boarded up pub in Inverness reads: "No booze, cash or toilet roll left on the premises".  The number of confirmed cases in NHS Highland area is 58, according to the latest information from the Scottish government - seven more than recorded on Tuesday.  In the Western Isles there are three. NHS Western Isles confirmed there were two cases on Tuesday.  In the meantime Companies and organisations at the Inverness Campus are offering their skills and equipment to help fight the spread of coronavirus.  The firms include Aseptium and 4c Engineering which are working on producing personal protective equipment (PPE).  ODx Innovations is setting up clinical testing and diagnostics, and the University of the Highlands and Islands' offer of help includes making available its laboratory facilities.  Laboratory staff at Scotland's Rural College at the campus have offered their expertise.

Paintings Discovered Inside Coffin of 3,000-year-old Egyptian Mummy

Conservators have discovered paintings inside the coffin of an Egyptian mummy after she was lifted out of it for the first time in more than 100 years.  They made the discovery during work to conserve Ta-Kr-Hb, believed to be a priestess or princess from Thebes, before she is displayed in the new City Hall Museum in Perth.  The mummy, which is nearly 3,000 years old, was in fragile condition after being targeted by grave robbers in ancient times.  Work was needed to ensure her condition did not deteriorate further. Conservators were surprised to discover painted figures on both the internal and external bases of the coffin trough when they lifted her out.  Both figures are representations of the Egyptian goddess Amentet or Imentet, known as the She of the West or sometimes as Lady of the West.  Dr Mark Hall, collections officer at Perth Museum and Art Gallery, said: “It was a great surprise to see these paintings appear.  We had never had a reason to lift the whole thing so high that we could see the underneath of the trough and had never lifted the mummy out before and didn’t expect to see anything there.  So to get a painting on both surfaces is a real bonus and gives us something extra special to share with visitors.”   Conservators Helena and Richard Jaeschke have been working closely with Culture Perth and Kinross on the project, with work starting in late January. Further research will be carried out on the paintings to find out more about the history of the mummy. The painting on the interior base of the coffin trough was previously hidden by Ta-Kr-Hb and is the best preserved of the two.  The mummy was donated to Perth Museum by the Alloa Society of Natural Science and Archaeology in 1936.  It was presented to the society by a Mr William Bailey, who bought it from the curator of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.  Dr Hall said: “The key thing we wanted to achieve was to stabilise the body so it didn’t deteriorate any more so it has been rewrapped and then we wanted to stabilise the trough and upper part of the coffin which we’ve done.”  He added: “Doing this means everybody gets to find out a lot more about her. One of the key things is just physically doing the work so we have a better idea of the episodes Ta-Kr-Hb went through in terms of grave robbers and later collectors in the Victorian times so we can explore these matters more fully and we can share that with the public.”  Culture Perth and Kinross is campaigning to raise money for the conservation of Ta-Kr-Hb as she prepares to go on display at the City Hall Museum in 2022.

Helensburgh Couple Stranded in New Zealand Due to Coronavirus Lockdown

A Helensburgh couple who are stuck in New Zealand due to coronavirus travel restrictions have slammed the government over the lack of information and support they have received as they battle to get back to Scotland.  The Glasgow Times, reported on Thursday that Tom and Carol McDonald, who are both retired, left Scotland on February 18 with their life savings behind them as they embarked on what was meant to be a journey of their lifetime.  But the couple's holiday has been immediately cut short – and they now face quarantine in New Zealand for an unknown length of time.  Tom explained: “We were advised to contact our local embassy or consulate via telephone but we couldn’t get through. That was all. More or less, we feel completely abandoned by the government and UK authorities.”  Tom and Carol were scheduled to fly home with the Emirates airline via Dubai, until transit hubs and passenger flights across the globe were halted.  “There’s lots of people around the place, especially backpackers and young people, who have ran out of money and are staying in hostels. But they’re running out of places to stay.  Everything is completely closed down and I don’t know how these people will get support.”  The couple have been using a Facebook group, Get Us Home UK- British Citizens stranded in New Zealand to keep informed on government updates which could help their situation.  Tom added: “We get a daily text message to say they’re doing their best and that the Home Secretary is trying to convince governments to open transit hubs, but that is about it - absolutely nothing else has happened. I feel sorry for those out here who don’t have access to internet - they must be feeling completely stuck.”  Earlier this week the UK Westminster Government pledged to implement a £75 million airlift operation that would rescue thousands of British nationals stranded abroad due to the coronavirus crisis.  

Foot Note -R
How many cases are there at the 3rd April?  There are currently 3,001 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Scotland, although the actual number of cases is possibly much much greater.  This in a population of 5.5 million.  In NSW with a population of 7.7 million there were 2,493 confirmed cases.  While its too simplistic to compare both groups in this crude manner I think it shows that irrespective of charges to the contrary the Federal & State Governments in Australia are doing something right.

Last Updated (Saturday, 04 April 2020 00:30)