CARE homes have been at the centre of the coronavirus pandemic from the outset. Thousands of older, vulnerable residents contracted the virus and nearly half of the more than 2,500 who have died in Scotland within 28 days of testing positive were in care homes.

At the height of the first wave of the virus, many families told me of their anguish at not being able to have direct contact with their relatives in care homes. Last week in Parliament, Scottish Labour secured a commitment from the Scottish Government to restore contact between designated family caregivers and their loved ones.

The successful motion asked ministers to adopt an approach set out by legislators in Ontario that respects the rights of persons receiving care, support or services in care settings and their caregivers.

New guidelines should permit visitors to hold hands and hug relatives again, after six months of little or no contact at all. This will be welcome news for care home residents, as well as disabled children and adults, and bring an end to the isolation imposed by lockdown restrictions.

While this is a welcome development, other important aspects of health and care remain on hold. For example, the MS Society Scotland contacted me last week about its campaign on access to rehabilitation services for people living with MS and other neurological conditions. While I was pleased to learn that local services continued to run, many people elsewhere were unable to access these services during lockdown. We need to get these and other NHS services up and running again as soon as possible.

Finally, October 5-11 is Challenge Poverty Week. With the pandemic and lockdown resulting in an increase in poverty, this must be a top priority in the recovery phase.