Australia news updates live: ‘multiple' people escape from NT Covid quarantine; Qld floods; bigger NSW fines over Omicron variant

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That also means you are going to hear a lot during question time about how well the economy is doing, through government dixers (and non-answers to opposition questions).

The government really, really, really wants to make economic management one of the issues of the coming election, so prepare yourself for all of the economic talk.

NT police searching for ‘multiple’ people who escaped quarantine facility

23:05 Cait Kelly

The Northern Territory Police are currently searching for “multiple” people who escaped from Darwin’s Howard Springs Covid-19 quarantine faculty this morning.

A large number of police are currently searching the facility, and vehicles in the area.

It is unclear how many people were involved in the escape but Guardian Australia understands facility management are currently confirming a headcount of those staying there.

The incident is the second escape from the facility within a week, after a 27-year-old man allegedly absconded from quarantine last week before being found on Darwin’s main strip.

Police checkpoints established around Howard Springs as they work to track down escapees. They’re checking vehicle registration numbers and even inside boots. Large traffic delays @9NewsAUS @9NewsDarwin

— Tahlia Sarv (@tahliasarv) November 30, 2021

Economic update

23:04 Peter Hannam

A bit of economic news out today. The ABS will release September quarter gross domestic product figures at 11.30am.

Here’s how it looked for the June quarter when the economy was hurtling along at a 9% clip, year on year, and 0.7% versus the March quarter.

Today’s “print” of the national accounts, as the industry likes to call it, will be less awesome and more awful, with an annual pace pared to about 3% growth as half the economy (Victoria, NSW and the ACT) was locked down.

The headline figure, though, will the quarter-on-quarter dive, which is expected to be about 2.5% to 3%, making the July-September period the country’s second-worst on record. Only the 7% contraction in the June quarter of 2020 was worse.

But, more than most, the numbers are very much in the rear-view mirror, as the economy is hurtling along. As the ANZ noted this morning, the third quarter is “old news now”.

Data to date suggest that Q4 GDP growth will be very strong, with retail sales up a massive 4.4% month on month in October, consistent with our view that the recovery will be consumer led.

The biggest risk to the outlook continues to come from the health front, and the new Omicron variant highlights the unpredictable nature of these risks.

It’s those health risks that central banks, including Australia’s, have cited as among the reasons why they are inclined to tolerate higher inflation longer, rather than jacking up rates.

Whether that leads to an overshoot on the current leg of the “W-shaped recovery”, or there’s another downward leg to come, remains to be seen.

Documents reveal Australia was warned of worsening situation in Afghanistan


Daniel Hurst has an important story about when the government was warned about the worsening Afghanistan situation:

The Australian government was warned in mid-July that the worsening security situation in Afghanistan and Covid restrictions were making it “extremely difficult” to help former Afghan employees escape the country, previously secret documents reveal.

At least five weeks before the Afghan capital fell to the Taliban in mid-August, government officials predicted more people would seek to flee the country and they were discussing the possibility of chartering direct flights from Kabul to Australia.

Guardian Australia can also reveal the governor general, David Hurley, sought a private briefing from the immigration minister in July about the program to assist former Afghan colleagues – as the government was facing increasing public criticism about its handling of the longstanding scheme.

Related: ‘Tragic’ delays: documents reveal Australia knew time was running out to extract Afghan staff



La Niña is really making itself known.

AAP has an update on what is happening in NSW:

Severe thunderstorms delivering heavy rain and large hail have again hit north and western NSW overnight.

The Bureau of Meteorology warned on Tuesday evening a “tropical airmass with abundant moisture” was in place and severe thunderstorms were likely to produce heavy rain that could cause flash flooding, damaging winds and large hailstones.

In the hours before the warning a 100km/h wind gust was detected north of the Queensland border. The storms were expected to impact as far south as Griffith in the Riverina region.

Further rain expected on Wednesday threatens to add even more water into catchments at risk of flooding in the northern rivers region of NSW.

A flood watch was issued on Tuesday for rivers there and on the mid-north coast, with possible renewed river level rises in the northwest slopes as well.

Renewed river level rises and subsequent flooding possible along the Upper Macintyre, Gwydir and Namoi rivers are also of great concern.



The Labor candidate for Reid, Sally Sitou has taken to social media to combat assumptions and rumours she is hearing about her candidacy, because of her Chinese heritage.

In 2021.

There’s also an assumption I have divided loyalties b/w Aust & China. I am an Australian citizen, I was born & raised here. I’m also incredibly proud of my Chinese heritage. I am standing for Federal Parliament because I love this country. I want it to be the best it can be. 3/7

— Sally Sitou 陈莎莉 – Labor for Reid (@SallySitou) November 30, 2021



The exposure draft for the social media legislation the government is putting forward has just gone live.

You can find it here.



And on the other issue the government was pushing:

The religious discrimination bill is now 6th on the House notice paper – so still no sign of it getting to a vote this week. It has crept ahead of the voter ID bill though.#auspol #ReligiousDiscriminationBill

— Paul Karp (@Paul_Karp) November 30, 2021



Liberal senator Jane Hume says she wants to see more women in the parliament but doesn’t think quotas is how you get there.

It has taken Labor about 20 years to *almost* reach gender parity in its representation – and it took quotas to make it happen.

Hume says that doesn’t make sense for the Liberal party, because it is not a “top-down” organisation. (Perhaps she missed the reports Scott Morrison is considering using special powers to install his chosen candidates into seats, overruling the branches, as he prepares for the election – particularly in NSW, where the election at this stage, looks like being won and lost.)


I think having more women in parliament is always a good thing and I would like to see the Liberal party put significant effort into putting more women in parliament.

Are quotas the right way to go about it? I’m not entirely convinced yet.

Quotas are something that work very well in the corporate sector and in an organisation that has a top-down and authoritarian approach. In the Liberal party we are a grassroots organisation where the culture needs to change from the bottom up. As female leaders in the Liberal party we have a real responsibility to make a difference with the grassroots part of our organisation to demonstrate to them the value of having more women in parliament and how the culture can change that way.



Here is how the house sitting is shaping up for the second last day

Good morning. The House resumed at 9.30am. After notices 1-8 of government business, the first order of the day is the resumption of debate on the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Annual Disclosure Equality) Bill 2021. Find the full program here:

— Australian House of Representatives (@AboutTheHouse) November 30, 2021

Video: Boris Johnson says “this Christmas will be considerably better” as he explains why government hasn’t implemented full Plan B measures (Manchester Evening News)



Here are some of the explanatory notes on what the bill plans on doing:

The bill will address the issues raised by the High Court’s decision in Fairfax Media Publications v Voller [2021] HCA 27 (Voller), which made clear that individuals and organisations with social media pages that allow third party commentary may be publishers of comments posted by third parties for the purposes of defamation law, even if they were not aware of the comments.

The bill will also provide new mechanisms for Australians to ascertain whether a potentially defamatory comment on a page of a social media service was made in Australia and, if so, to obtain the relevant contact details of the commenter. This will empower Australians to institute defamation proceedings in relation to the comment.

In particular, the bill will:

  • deem a person who administers or maintains a social media page not to be a publisher of third-party comment and thereby be immune from potential liability under defamation law
  • deem the social media provider to be the publisher of material posted on their platform for the purposes of defamation law, which is consistent with the outcome of the Voller decision
  • create a conditional defence for providers of social media services in defamation proceedings if the provider:
    • has a complaints scheme that meets certain prescribed requirements, and complies with the scheme, and
    • provides information to assist prospective applicants to identify and commence proceedings against an anonymous user
  • empower courts to issue end-user information disclosure orders, which require providers of social media services to give the applicant the commenter’s relevant contact details and country location data in certain circumstances
  • require social media companies to have a nominated entity incorporated in Australia that will be able to discharge key obligations under the Bill, and
  • enable the Attorney-General to intervene in defamation proceedings on behalf of the Commonwealth, in certain circumstances.



South Australia has opened its booster program to anyone who is eligible – which means anyone who had their second dose of the vaccine at least six months ago.



We are looking into this as well.

#BREAKING Nine News has been told several people have absconded the Howard Springs quarantine facility early this morning. A police investigation is right now underway @9NewsDarwin @9NewsAUS

— Tahlia Sarv (@tahliasarv) November 30, 2021



Rex Patrick is leading the charge to overhaul how freedom of information requests are dealt with by the government.

As Paul Karp reports:

Related: Labor, One Nation and Rex Patrick unite to decry Coalition’s refusal to release national cabinet documents

Victoria reports 1,179 new Covid cases and six deaths, NSW records 251 cases


Victoria and NSW have reported their daily Covid cases. There have been six deaths in Victoria.

We thank everyone who got vaccinated and tested yesterday.

Our thoughts are with those in hospital, and the families of people who have lost their lives.

More data soon: #COVID19VicData

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) November 30, 2021

NSW COVID-19 update – Wednesday 1 December 2021

In the 24-hour reporting period to 8pm last night:

– 94.6% of people aged 16+ have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

– 92.5% of people aged 16+ have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) November 30, 2021



It’s national accounts day (huzzah) which we will bring you as soon as it drops (Peter Hannam will be all over it for you).

Jim Chalmers was on Sky this morning, where he was asked about it:

This is a really important snapshot of the national economy. The national economy is defined by skyrocketing prices and falling real wages, and in the September quarter by the second biggest fall in economic growth since these records were kept. You listen to the prime minister and the treasurer and they always want to talk about international comparisons, well of all the countries that have reported so far, Australia is expected to be absolutely last when it comes to economic growth.

These are the costs and consequences of a Morrison government which got the initial vaccine rollout, quarantine and economic support so badly wrong. At this time last year, they were talking about a big recovery. We’ve heard all of this before.

Instead, they delivered the second biggest downturn in the history of the national accounts. So we can’t be complacent. The Omicron virus strain is something that we need to be very attentive to. Complacency is what stomped on the green shoots of the beginnings of the last recovery and we don’t want to see that again.

‘Significant flooding’ across Queensland town of Inglewood


Australia news updates live: ‘multiple’ people escape from NT Covid quarantine; Qld floods; bigger NSW fines over Omicron variant
© Provided by The Guardian Aerial image of the flooded areas of Inglewood, Queensland. Photograph: Jess Rielly/Severe Weather
Australia news updates live: ‘multiple’ people escape from NT Covid quarantine; Qld floods; bigger NSW fines over Omicron variant
© Provided by The Guardian More than 900 residents of Inglewood were evacuated on Tuesday night. Photograph: Jess Rielly/Severe Weather

Meanwhile, we are thinking of all of those in the Queensland flood zones.

As AAP reports:

A town in Queensland’s south is facing rising floodwaters, forcing the evacuation of more than 900 residents.

An emergency was declared for Inglewood, in the Goondiwindi local government area, in the Darling Downs close to the NSW border on Tuesday night.

Residents were told to head to an assembly point at Inglewood Cemetery ahead of widespread flooding expected on Wednesday.

“Significant flooding is expected to occur across the township in coming hours,” police said.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Assistant Commissioner Stephen Smith said about 950 people had been moved to safety.

“Our crews were working through the night assisting that operation,” he told Nine Network on Wednesday.

Mr Smith noted there had been widespread flooding across central Queensland, the northern parts of the state and through the southeast and southwest.

“Overnight there were areas that got up to 180mm of rain,” he said.



What did Richard Marles think of Anthony Albanese calling Peter Dutton a “boofhead” in parliament yesterday? (Dutton accused Albanese of being “weak” and having a “glass jaw”)

Albanese made the comment just hours after the Kate Jenkins report was handed down, calling for more respect in the parliament.


I don’t think that comment is of concern. But I think it is right that we need to be looking at culture across the Parliament, and that includes the way in which we relate to each other. And I come back to the starting point that this is about ultimately trying to make sure that this is the example in the country of providing a safe and respectful workplace for those people who work here and particularly women. And we need to be making sure that coming out of this report, we take this moment to change the culture of Parliament forever.



Scott Morrison was asked about his senator David Van’s interjections in the senate yesterday, and he had this to say:

I expect all parliamentary leaders to be seeking to be uphold those standards have been in the Parliament a long time. Just last week the interjections that I was hearing in the chamber coming across, I mean, these are things that all parliamentary leaders continue to have to uphold the standards of and I expect that of my team and I was very, very disappointed about that.



Richard Marles says Labor is all for the inquiry into social media giants (the prime minister announced that today).

Marles told the ABC:

We think that it’s important to be looking at the question of social media and the role that big tech plays in that. Obviously we absolutely support the thrust of what the government’s trying to do here, which is to stamp out behaviour or trolls on social media and to make that a safer place for the Australian community.

Those who resist an integrity commission ‘raise curiosity’, Liberal senator says


Still in the senate, Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells spoke during the adjournment debate about the need for a federal integrity commission – that people could trust:

In February this year, I spoke about integrity and conduct. Politics is about perception, and, regrettably, the public perception of our politicians is not good. Repeatedly, politicians from local, state and federal ranks have acted without integrity and contributed to the ongoing and deteriorating perception of the body politic.

In any survey about the most trusted professions in our society, politicians usually rank amongst the lowest, and why wouldn’t this be the case, given the continued exposure of questionable activities over the years? Whether it’s alleged lies in election campaigns, dodgy preselections, misappropriation of public monies, personal benefits resulting from insider information, monies sequestered in overseas tax havens, abuse of office for personal advantage, dodgy land deals or connections with foreign governments, the list goes on and on.

Negative public perceptions are compounded when politicians dig their heels in, spin the story and fail to take responsibility for their actions. They rely on the fast-moving media cycle and wait for the next story to take over the front page, and this frustrates the public even more. Modern democracies and the operation of open government must be accountable and transparent, thereby obviating any suspicion of skulduggery.

In conclusion, those who resist the introduction of an effective federal integrity body raise people’s curiosity. One has to ask the question: are they conflicted? Why are they resisting the implementation of such a body? And when we speak of integrity, I’m once again reminded of the words of Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor and philosopher: ‘If it is not right, do not do it. If it is not true, do not say it.’



Here is what Liberal senator David Van told the senate yesterday (he did a personal explanation later in the afternoon, but didn’t stand up at the time when president Slade Brockman asked if anyone wanted to withdraw their interjection at the time of the incident):

As you asked us to reflect, I reflect on my behaviour in Question Time and I acknowledge that interjections are always disorderly. I acknowledge I was making interjections while Senator Lambie was asking a question during Question Time.

And while I do not accept the characterisation of my interjections in the manner raised in points of order in that time, by other senators, I do regret the interjections and I apologise to Senator Lambie and to the Senate unreservedly. Mr President, I commit to holding myself to the highest standards in the future. Thank you.



If you want to know how some government MPs are treating the government’s own social media law proposal, here’s just one example.

Victorian Liberal Senator David Van has apologised for interjecting while Jacqui Lambie asked questions in the senate yesterday, but has denied he made dog noises. He told journalist Samantha Maiden it may have sounded like an animal noise because he was wearing a mask. His colleague, Hollie Hughes had said on Twitter it didn’t happen at all (before Van’s apology for interjecting) and sarcastically praised Penny Wong’s “bionic hearing”.

Here’s how Van responded to Labor MP Graham Perrett as part of an ongoing thread on the incident

How so curious, Graham? I did not make a ‘noise’ I spoke when making an interjection & I certainly did not make any kind of animal noise at all. Are you alleging otherwise? At least I won’t need our excellent new anti-troll laws to unmask you #justsayin

— Senator David Van (@VanSenate) November 30, 2021



Meanwhile, Labor isn’t confirming anything at this point, but the SMH is reporting the fuel emissions standards policy the opposition took to the last election is gone.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise; Labor has been working up its 2030 emissions policy for a while and part of that has been shedding parts it faces government attack over. With all the talk of “mandates” back (the government has claimed Labor wanted to mandate what vehicles people could drive, which isn’t true) as well as “taxes” (the government has also claimed things like the fuel emissions standard was a tax on family) Labor has been working on minimising as many attacks as possible (which doesn’t always lead to the best way to build policy, but here we are).

As Murph has been reporting, a 2030/35 target from Labor is expected very soon and it will be more ambitious than the Abbott-era policy the government is holding on to. With Labor starting its pseudo campaign this weekend (a campaign rally has already been announced) you can expect that policy announcement sooner rather than later. Once parliament is over, it’s game on for both sides.



Social media crackdowns must be playing well in focus groups: now there is an official inquiry.

From the release:

The Australian Parliament will put big tech under the microscope as it examines toxic material on social media platforms and the dangers this poses to the wellbeing of Australians.

The inquiry, which will be chaired by Robertson MP Lucy Wicks, was announced today by prime minister Scott Morrison and minister for communications, urban infrastructure, cities and the arts Paul Fletcher.

Prime minister Morrison said the inquiry builds on the world-leading legislation the government announced earlier this week to unmask anonymous online trolls.

“Mums and dads are rightly concerned about whether big tech is doing enough to keep their kids safe online,” The prime minister said. “Big tech created these platforms, they have a responsibility to ensure their users are safe.



Scott Morrison wants to make today about his social media bill, which is actually just a defamation bill, containing elements already available in state jurisdictions (social media platforms have always been publishers, for instance).

So you’ll be hearing a lot from the government about protecting young people and women from “anonymous trolls” on social media platforms. The legislation doesn’t do that though. It gives avenues for *some* people to be able to go to court to get an email address associated with an anonymous account. (And let’s not forget that when an actual pile on is on, a lot of it comes from accounts with names and not everyone can afford to sue for reputational damage.)

(Plus, just yesterday, the same day the Kate Jenkins report was handed down, the senate didn’t exactly cover itself in glory when it came to respect.)

Related: The Australian parliament, the whole arse-covering and ego-driven apparatus, should be paralysed by shame and remorse | Katharine Murphy



We’re international news again.

A report on the workplace culture in Australia’s Parliament paints a damning picture of widespread sexual harassment, with employees sharing harrowing stories of an alcohol-fueled environment where powerful men violated boundaries unchecked.

— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 30, 2021

Good morning


It’s the second last sitting day of the year and the government still has things like the voter ID legislation to get through, so it’s beginning to cut things a little fine.

There won’t be any federal integrity commission legislation from the government. We know that. Scott Morrison is blaming Labor for his government not bringing on the bill (which is currently just an exposure draft) because for some reason, Labor not supporting the government’s proposal is a stumbling block for a government which carries a majority in the house and has brought on countless bills the opposition does not support. But that’s the logic we’re being offered up on this one.

Labor doesn’t support the voter ID laws but at this point, the government is pushing ahead with those. There’s also religious discrimination, which is off to a joint committee, which will meet over the summer holidays in order to report back by early February. Morrison wants that one wrapped up before the election, hence the rush. So we’ll probably at least squeeze in the February sitting before the next election, but again, there’s no guarantees on that.

National cabinet met late yesterday and all the leaders agreed to hold the line on keeping domestic borders open, most likely anticipating a whole of country meltdown if Christmas is cancelled for the third year in a row. That, and no one knows enough about the Omicron Covid variant yet to want to make a decision which could end up looking a bit panicked. So far, there is no information warranting any other action than watch and wait (domestically at least). But there are a few more obligations for returning international travellers; in NSW those who don’t comply with quarantine/isolation rules face a $5000 fine, while Victoria is mulling whether to re-introduce a 14-day quarantine for returned travellers (no change as yet though).

Related: How have Australia’s international travel rules changed in response to Omicron?

Speaking of Victoria, it should pass its pandemic laws today, after securing the votes it needed from the crossbench.

We’ll keep you up to date with all the political news (and a little more, given Covid is still with us) with Mike Bowers, Katharine Murphy, Daniel Hurst, Sarah Martin and Paul Karp at your service. The entire Guardian brains trust is also chipping in, as usual, to make sure you know everything you need to know to stay up to date across the nation. It being a sitting day, Amy Remeikis is on the blog. Will there be enough caffeine? Probably not. But onwards anyway.




Turns out those in the Victorian parliament are probably the most sleepy in the country:

Soooo you know how we thought the pandemic legislation would pass overnight? MPs have sat ALL night – and they’re still going!

— Sharnelle Vella (@SharnelleVella) November 30, 2021

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BlackRock CEO Larry Fink insists he's not woke and is still driven by profit after being accused by Republicans of turning his back on oil and gas

Fink penned an open letter to shareholders on Tuesday defending his position He said he believes it is 'essential' for CEOs to have a 'consistent voice, a clear purpose' Fink had been accused of pandering to political correctness and telling other banks and firms to be more conscious of issues like climate change Last year, BlackRock - the world's largest asset manager - announced it would only start investing in net zero greenhouse gas emission projects West Virginia on Monday canceled its account with BlackRock in protest The state had trusted its $8billion operating funds to the bank but now won'tTexas politicians also fear BlackRock will steer Wall Street away from oil and gasBlackRocks's shares have dropped by more than 5 percent in the last week  Read more »

Pictured: Pensioners, 67 and 65, caught with £24,000 of cocaine and £51,000 cash as they are jailed for admitting smuggling the class A drug

Helen Wright carried out the crime in order to help pay off her son's drug debtShe recruited friend Moira Robertson, using her Glasgow home to store money Police raided the property and recovered £51,000 in cash from RobertsonPolythene bags and scales were also found, along with 533 grams of cocaineWright arrived outside the house during the search with £2,800 worth of powderWright was jailed for 20 months while Robertson received 18 months Read more »

Analysten enttäuscht: Goldman Sachs verdient zum Jahresende deutlich weniger

Die US-Investmentbank Goldman Sachs hat angesichts schwächerer Erlöse im Handelsgeschäft im vierten Quartal einen Gewinneinbruch erlitten. In den drei Monaten bis Ende Dezember verdiente der Finanzkonzern unter dem Strich 3,9 ... Read more »

Unkontrollierte Ausbreitung stoppen: Parlamentarier wollen neue Massnahmen gegen den Wolf

Die Umweltkommissionen beider Räte wollen die unkontrollierte Ausbreitung des Wolfs stoppen. Nach der Ständeratskommission hat sich auch die Umweltkommission des Nationalrats (Urek-N) für eine rasche Änderung des Jagdgesetzes ausgesprochen. © ... Read more »

Could THIS car lead to missing Luke Durbin? Mother whose son vanished in in 2006 shares final CCTV images of the night he disappeared including 'silver or white' Volvo with false plates as she 'begs' for news of what happened

Luke Durbin was 19 when he vanished from Ipswich town centre in the early hours of the morning of May 12, 2006, following a night out with friendsHis mother Nicki has 'begged' for any information in a fresh podcast appeal Also shared the final CCTV image captured of Luke to help trigger memoriesPolice believe a silver or white Volvo with false number plates could be key  Read more »

Parents of girl, two, who died after choking on a sausage at nursery question whether the toddler was properly supervised by staff, inquest hears

Sadie Salt, two, began choking at Mini Learners nursery in Radlett, Hertfordshire Youngster thought to have choked on sausage while having lunch with 25 othersShe died in hospital two days later and inquest is now being held into her death A pre-inquest review was heard by a coroner today at County Hall in Hertford Coroner Geoffrey Sullivan said jury in inquest could hear 'distressing' 999 call Read more »

Sad reality of commuting in NYC: Straphangers hold off from getting on the subway platform to avoid screaming man pacing up and down after spate of fatal attacks

Three women riders were met with a menacing, screaming man on Tuesday morning at the 23rd Street Station in Manhattan Jennifer Smith, 29, who has lived in the area for two years, and two other women had to stand behind the turnstiles as he paced the platform  Smith also told that she, and the other women, had to rush onto the train once it arrived to avoid him New Mayor Eric Adams, 61, has been preaching to New Yorkers that the subways are 'safe' and the only real terror is the 'perception of fear' Subway crimes have been an ongoing problem throughout the pandemic and are already up more than 100 per cent in 2022   Read more »

Ex-chief of banking giant TSB and incoming chair of NHS England reveals he uses private healthcare

Mr Medding, 63, today revealed he used private care for deep vein thrombosis The former banker received private healthcare as part of the perks of his job He was accused of not trusting the health service in a grilling with MPs todayBut he insisted he has sued the NHS on other occasions and so have his family  Read more »

Giant pandas stay chubby on bamboo diet thanks to gut bacteria – study

© PA Archive Female panda nears mating period Despite almost exclusively eating fibrous bamboo, giant pandas manage to stay chunky and healthy. Researchers have found that the animals’ gut bacteria ... Read more »

Covid live: Scotland to lift all restrictions brought in over Omicron variant as UK reports 94,432 new cases

LIVE – Updated at 16:18 First minister Nicola Sturgeon urged people to remain cautious; latest official UK case figures show dip in cases. UK reports 438 Covid daily deaths, the ... Read more »
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