BBC Scotland's current affairs programme, Disclosure
, which conjectured that more than 2,000 coronavirus deaths could have been prevented if Scotland had locked down two weeks earlier, totally dominated proceedings when the Scottish media quizzed Nicola Sturgeon at her routine briefing session on 12 May.
BBC Disclosure: Scotland's Lockdown
, broadcast on 11 May, was based on a new study by a team of epidemiological scientists at Edinburgh University, led by Professor Rowland Kao, which suggested the death toll could have been around 577 – reduced by about 80%, through earlier action. A model, which simulated the epidemiological behaviour of the Scottish population, was based on figures published by the National Records of Scotland in the week beginning 4 May, which said 2,795 people had died with a confirmed or suspected case of the virus.
However, Scotland's Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, speaking on BBC Scotland's The Nine
news programme, said the Scottish Government had acted 'promptly and swiftly' on the basis of the scientific advice available. The BBC News
website reported that the Disclosure
programme revealed there were multiple transmissions of the virus in Edinburgh in February, well before the first confirmed cases in Scotland, but this was not disclosed to the public. And a Glasgow family told of their devastation after three grandparents were taken by the virus. At her briefing session on 12 May, Nicola Sturgeon explained that these cases not been made public due to patient confidentiality issues, and, generally, that it was easy to make such supposition with the benefit of hindsight.
The website report said the BBC could reveal the virus had been brought to Scotland when an outbreak began in Edinburgh, on 26 and 27 February, at a conference for the sportswear giant Nike at the Hilton Carlton Hotel in Edinburgh. It continued: 'One of the delegates from abroad brought the virus into Edinburgh and infected many of their fellow Nike employees, who then returned to their own countries. At least 25 people linked to this one event are confirmed to have been infected – eight of them resident in Scotland. Health authorities in Scotland were aware of this potential outbreak by 2 March, but the public were not told about it.
'The Scottish Government confirmed health authorities were alerted to the potential outbreak on 2 March. It said those at increased risk were identified, their close contacts were traced and public health authorities were satisfied there was no further infection risk. Despite knowing the virus had been in Scotland since at least late February, Scotland did not ban mass gatherings until 16 March, or go into lockdown until 23 March.'
The BBC News
report added that Scotland's own advisory panel, featuring Professor Devi Sridhar, chair of public health at Edinburgh University, was set up two days after lockdown was introduced and it continued: 'Professor Sridhar said there had "definitely" been more than enough information about the coming pandemic for action to have been taken much sooner across the UK. She said: "We should have been acting by mid-February. We could see that this was not easily a virus to be contained"'.
The BBC News
report points out: 'Professor Kao ran simulations to see what would have happened to the spread of the virus if Scotland had locked down on 9 March, and he said: "The question we are addressing here is what would have happened if rather than having lockdown on around 23 March, we'd done it about two weeks earlier. While… there's quite a bit of uncertainty in what the final outcome will be, all those [projections] are now substantially below what actually happened"'. The model predicted the death toll of around 577 and Professor Kao had pointed out: 'What that indicates to you is that these measures could have easily taken effect and reduced those death rates'.
On the BBC The Nine
interview, John Swinney added: 'I think what that figure represents is the retrospective application of a model to an earlier date from when lockdown started so I don't think the conclusion is particularly surprising, but what we have to look at is the scientific advice that was available to us at the time'. The Disclosure
programme was presented by Mark Daly with additional reporting by Liam McDougall and Kevin Anderson. It is now available on the BBC's iPlayer.
An initiative by the Mail on Sunday
and its sister newspapers will give away a £3 million support package of free advertising to struggling small businesses. It involves offering 1,000 small companies advertising space worth £3,000 across the newspapers owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT).
The initiative comes as the coronavirus lockdown threatens to kill off thousands of the country's small businesses, which provide incomes for more than 17 million people, a huge 60% of the private sector workforce, with many now surviving on emergency Government loans. The UK Government's small business minister, Paul Scully, said: 'Small business owners across the country are facing challenges on a scale not seen before in most of our lifetimes, which is why the Government has put together a far-reaching package of financial support... We all have a crucial role to play in helping businesses through this difficult time to get the economy back on its feet, which is why it's brilliant to see initiatives like this from the Daily Mail
group that will make a real difference'.
The initiative, in partnership with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), follows the creation of Mail Force – a new charity created by DMGT and its partners – which has so far raised more than £6.5 million to fly in vital protective equipment for NHS medical staff and care sector workers amid a global shortage. Mike Cherry, national chairman of the FSB, said: 'This is a fantastic scheme and we're delighted to see the Daily Mail
getting behind the UK's 5.8 million small businesses in the wake of the pandemic'.
The scheme is open to businesses that have been established for more than six months, employ fewer than 150 employees, and have a turnover of less than £6 million a year. Applications can be made via the FSB from 13 May.
Successful applicants will be awarded £3,000 of advertising credit to use in the newspaper group's print and online titles – including the Scottish Daily Mail
, Scottish Mail on Sunday
, the i
newspaper and the Metro
free newspaper. To apply, go to: grants.fsb.org.uk
The Royal Family has praised the 'journalists and broadcasters working to keep us informed' during the coronavirus pandemic. On their official Twitter account, they said: 'From the national titles and broadcasters, to the local and regional outlets making a difference to the communities they serve – Thank you'. The post linked to a tweet by the Journalists' Charity, reading: 'Journalists are working tirelessly to keep you up-to-date on COVID-19 when many are facing an uncertain future. Support journalism'.
The Royal Family's public support follows the Journalists' Charity launching a drive aimed at celebrating the role of journalists from all sectors during the pandemic, highlighting the ongoing efforts to keep audiences up-to-date with latest information and developments. The initiative features advertisements designed to run online and in print highlighting these ongoing efforts, and backed by regional and national titles. The Press and Journa
) carried a full page ad on 11 May with a very large, striking heading: 'Lockdown without journalism? Unthinkable'.
Launching the drive, the Journalists' Charity CEO, James Brindle, said: 'What is particularly encouraging is hearing from members of the public who have been in touch to share their support for journalists at this crucial time, with many pledging generous donations to support our efforts to help those who have found themselves in dire straits'. Scottish Review
readers can add their support to the appeal on twitter @JournoCharity, or on Facebook – 'the Journalists' Charity'.
The coronavirus epidemic has had a serious impact on ITV with advertising falling by 42% in April, forcing the broadcaster to take various measures including furloughing about 15% of its UK workforce – some 800 staff. The Guardian
reported: 'ITV’s trading update reveals how rapidly the advertising crash hit. The broadcaster reported an 8% year-on-year increase in advertising income in February, before the spread of coronavirus had a major impact on the UK economy. In March, advertising revenues flatlined year-on-year as businesses shut and lockdown measures were introduced'.
ITV will reduce overhead costs by £60m this year and has withdrawn its final dividend for 2019, and also reached an agreement with its pension trustees and tax authorities to delay at least £150 million of payments due by June, to the second half of this year and into 2021.
Some welcome humour in the Ephraim Hardcastle column in the Scottish Daily Mail
. Noting the death of David Twiston Davies, the former obituaries editor of the Daily Telegraph
, Hardcastle reports: 'It brings to mind his glee when 1970s marketing boffins urged a search for youthful readers, decreeing: "The obituaries page needs to feature younger people"'.