PPE to England reports ‘extremely concerning’ – Sturgeon

First minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed the latest coronavirus figures from Scotland

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The First Minister has tackled media reports that vital stocks of personal protection equipment intended for Scottish care homes are being ‘diverted’ to England.

Nicola Sturgeon told a media briefing in Edinburgh this lunchtime that the reports were ‘extremely concerning’ and that Scottish health officials would be taking up the issue as a ‘matter of urgency’ with Matt Hancock, health secretary for the UK Government.

She explained that the issue had not directly affected Scotland’s national stockpile of PPE but care homes may have faced a supply problem.

‘If care homes’ usual supplies are affected in this way then as well as that  being completely unacceptable in itself, it will, of course, increase pressure on our national stockpile and that would be a source of real worry for us,’ said Mrs Sturgeon.

She told the news conference: ‘I hope nobody thinks this is in any way a point of a political nature. It is a point about fairness and co-operation as all of us deal with the challenge of this virus.

‘All parts of the UK right now are facing supply challenges on PPE. Indeed, this is a global issue, so any situation where supplies were being diverted from one part of the UK to another without consultation or co-operation would clearly be unconscionable and unacceptable. That is why we are seeking to investigate these issues further to address them.’

However, Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch said he regarded the reports as ‘rubbish,’ during an interview today on Good Morning Scotland.

Latest figures for Scotland show that a further 291 people tested positive yesterday for COVID-19, bringing the total to 6,358.

A total of 1,798 people are in hospital with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 – an increase of one compared to yesterday.

The number of people being held in intensive care units in Scotland has fallen by 15 to 196.

However, Mrs Sturgeon urged caution in reading to much into the reductions.

A further 40 deaths have been registered in Scotland since yesterday with confirmed COVID-19, which means 615 people have now died of the illness.

However, that figure is expected to increase tomorrow when National Records Scotland publishes the number of deaths in the country due to ‘suspected’ COVID-19.