Sturgeon vows to investigate PPE claims as Scots coronavirus deaths rise to 615

It would be “unconscionable and unacceptable” for PPE supplies to be diverted from one part of the UK to another, Nicola Sturgeon said as she announced another 40 coronavirus deaths in Scotland.

The First Minister was speaking after reports some companies are prioritising supplies to NHS England and care homes south of the border.

A total of 615 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, up from 575 on Monday.

Ms Sturgeon said 6,358 people have now tested positive for the virus, up by 291 from 6,067 the day before.

There are 196 people in intensive care with coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms, a decrease of 15 on Monday, and 1,798 people are in hospital the disease.

During the briefing, Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government will investigate reports that “supplies of PPE to care homes in Scotland are being diverted to England”.

She said if care homes supplies are affected it would be “unacceptable” and increase pressure on the national stockpile, which would be “a source of real worry”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “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.

“Any situation where supplies were being diverted from one part of the UK to another without consultation or any sense of co-operation would clearly be unconscionable and unacceptable.”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said she is urgently seeking clarity around the situation and intended to speak with her UK counterpart Matt Hancock later on Tuesday – but he cancelled the phone call.

She said she has written to him to “remind him that he specifically does not have my agreement to the centralisation of ordering or distribution of PPE”.

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