The story of 113-year-old María Branyas | Poorest areas of Scotland affected disproportionately | A third of small businesses may not re-open
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08/13/2020 | View in browser
Remember the care home survivors

María Branyas is a name that may become synonymous with resilience. 113-years-old, she has survived the Spanish Flu of 1918-19, the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39 and the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020.

Branyas was in isolation for weeks after contracting Covid-19 in the care home she has lived in for two decades in the city of Olot, in the Girona region of Catalonia. But she recovered, after only suffering mild symptoms.

"Now that she is well, she is wonderful, she wants to speak, to explain, to make her reflections, it is her again," her daughter said, following her recovery.

Branyas, the oldest person in Catalonia and the second oldest in Spain, lived her first years in the US before her father, a journalist, moved the family back to his home country during WW1, after going bankrupt in San Francisco.

"I have done nothing but live," she said in an interview last year.

"She is always giving us life lessons, she is always concerned about others," a carer at the home told La Vanguardia.

Branyas story reminds us that while we must remember those who have succumbed to Covid-19, we should also keep in mind the many who have recovered. Worldometer puts the current global death figure at 292,914 - with 1,604,562 recovered.

Wednesday has become a very grim day in the Scottish week. It is the day when the latest care home figures are revealed. We cannot let-up in scrutinising the awful crisis in Scotland's care homes that has taken far too many lives, not just for those who have gone and their loved ones, but also for those who survive Covid-19, many of whom will have felt horribly cut-adrift from the world as they fight this disease in isolation. For the survivors as much as anything, we should resolve to ensure that care homes are places where well-being is guaranteed, with the needs of carers and residents put well-before the profits of providers.

And keep in mind some wise-words from Branyas: "We have no choice but to put up with the politicians, they always do the same thing."
Ben Wray, Source Direct
Top Story
New NHS data has revealed that the people living in the poorest parts of Scotland account for nearly a quarter of Covid-19 cases.

The data shows 22.7 per cent of cases are in the poorest fifth of areas, compared to 18.8 per cent in the most affluent fifth.

Separate data shows the poorest areas account for twice as many Covid-19 calls to NHS24 as the wealthiest area, suggesting that there may be more cases in poor areas which are going unrecorded.

The author of the paper, professor Alison McCallum, director of public health at NHS Lothian, said that many of the callers would not have been tested.

"Without widespread implementation of test, trace, isolate and support, therefore, while this reflects the expected pattern of symptoms in the community it is not clear whether this will be the pattern of true positives that persists throughout the pandemic," McCallum said.

The country's most deprived council area, Inverclyde, has the highest death rate.

Jim McCormick, associate director for Scotland at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said of the figures: "It can never be right that someone's life chances are so profoundly affected by where they live or how much money their family has.

"It's crucial that all aspects of the spread of this virus are carefully examined, but we know that people in areas with higher deprivation scores are less likely to have jobs where they can work from home.

"This means they may have to face a very significant drop in income or keep going to work, facing greater risks of catching the virus. They are also more likely to live in overcrowded homes, increasing the risk for whole families. "

On the ground

We are keen to hear from subscribers about their experiences on the ground during this crisis. You can get in touch at

One subscriber e-mailed in about yesterday's Source Direct on the early response to the Covid-19 crisis:

"I am a recent subscriber and value your journalism from what seems to be a reasonably non-partisan perspective. Refreshing change from the "SNP GOOD"  or "SNP BAD" we see everywhere else.

"You ask for suggestions on your articles. Yesterday's Sour Direct refers to the BBC documentary - and suggests we should have locked down earlier/ahead of England/UK. I tend to agree.

"However, could you explore whether we could have locked down earlier given that we would not (I think) have been able to introduce a furloughing scheme without Treasury support - which surely would not have been forthcoming?

"I would however argue that the Scottish Government's critical failure was to not have adequate testing/tracing/contacting and PPE capacity, which are devolved responsibilities. Had we adopted other countries' proven successful application of this strategy during January and February alongside lockdown we would have done far better. It feels like the Scottish Government is obfuscating on this - and even hiding behind England's poor performance on this - perhaps a case of blaming Boris Johnson's decisions when it suits us even, when we were responsible for our own decisions on this?"

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Other news

  • One-third of small businesses in Scotland fear they will not be able to re-open their doors after the Covid-19 lockdown, a Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) survey has found. More than half of Scottish small businesses have been forced to close, compared to 41 per cent across the UK as a whole. FSB said it would take "sustained financial support" to keep many businesses from going under. (BBC)
  • The Coalition for Race Equality and Rights (CRER) has called for the Scottish Government to publish data on the impact of Covid-19 on ethnic minorities. The call follows ONS data published last week showing black men and women are dying at four times the rate of the white population in England and Wales. No such data has yet been published in Scotland. CRER said the information was necessary to understand whether additional advice and protections were necessary for BAME individuals in Scotland. (The National)
  • Businesses and unions in Scotland welcomed the extension of the furlough scheme until October, announced yesterday by Chancellor Rishi Sunak. The Federation of Small Businesses said details on what sort of contribution businesses would have to make is needed, after Sunak stated businesses would be expected to pay towards the scheme after June, but did not say exactly what this meant. The STUC said that some major employers had announced redundancies in recent days, and therefore they wanted reassurance that there was nothing in the scheme which would prompt firings of employees. (The National)
  • MSPs have been warned that a second health crisis could come in Scotland unless cancer services start resuming at full capacity again. Edinburgh University public health expert Linda Bauld told a parliamentary committee that cancer screenings, referrals, therapies and surgeries were all substantially down due to the NHS prioritising treatment for Covid-19, but reminded the MSPs that for every two deaths from Coronavirus in Scotland currently, there is one death from cancer. (The Scotsman)
  • UK Government Business Secretary Alok Sharma has said that Universal Basic Income is an idea that "hasn't been taken forward", after being asked about it by a member of the public. UBI has been backed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon but she has said it would require UK Government financial support to deliver in Scotland. Sharma noted that there had been trials in other countries but he said that the government believed it was important with welfare policy "that we target it at people". (STV)
  • Over 100 campaigners have signed an open letter urging First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to tackle child poverty, with the key demand being to put the equivalent of £40 a month into the bank accounts of low income families. The letter, signed by a range of organisations including STUC, Scottish Women's Aid and Scottish Association for Mental Health, said they had "grave concerns" that families were falling into severe hardship, and that the First Minister must use "every tool" available to support them financially during the Covid-19 crisis. (Daily Record)
New on Source
Around and about the Scottish media
- Penny Anderson on the rental crisis in Covid-19 (Bella Caledonia)

- Mike Small on the UK Government losing its control over the Covid-19 response (Bella Caledonia)
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