Readers' Letters: Covid doesn’t recognise international borders​​​​​​​

As a virologist who worked with June Almeida, the Glasgow-born electron microscopist who discovered human coronaviruses, and as the only scientist to have chaired a Public Inquiry, I would urge those like Jim Daly and Mary Thomas (Letters, 12 July) to exercise caution when making statements comparing English and Scottish Covid statistics.

Precautions are taken but still new variants of Covid can appear (Getty Images)
Precautions are taken but still new variants of Covid can appear (Getty Images)

The virus does not recognise nations, and its incidence varies far more within them, than between them. The science underpinning all control measures is international.

The pandemic continues, and it is too early to make definitive judgements about the successes and failures of our control measures, even if it can already be said that we failed to respond vigorously enough to the clear advice from the WHO on March 21, 2020 about preventing infection in care homes.

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Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen

Not so rosy

As a rejoinder to the rosy picture she paints of Scotland’s Covid policy (Letters, 12 July), perhaps Mary Thomas could explain why Dundee has just been described as the “Covid Capital of Europe”. And not only Dundee – the WHO cite Glasgow, Lothian, Lanarkshire, Fife and Tayside in a list of the ten most severely affected Covid areas in Europe. Hardly a resounding success for the SNP’s disease control measures.

Furthermore, the Test and Trace system may not be as effective as she claims. A family member was pinged last week and told to self-isolate for three days – but the instruction came five days after the contact occurred.

Barry Hughes, Edinburgh

Politics prevails

In his column of 10 July (“How did we end up as Europe’s Covid-19 capital?”), Brian Wilson offers some uncomfortable truths. Where politics prevails over the science we get negative outcomes lamenting the UK government’s failure to adopt Scotland’s quarantine laws, with holidaymakers circumventing these through English airports. Given that last week Scottish regions accounted for six of the top ten for Covid cases in Europe we have to ask ourselves what else is happening? Mr Wilson’s suggestion to open up further amidst a rise in hospitalisations goes against public health advice in Scotland. Most experts argue for a pause in moving to level 0, with some justification.

A key test for opening up has until recently been continued virus suppression, something that was largely achieved this time last year before the government opened up foreign travel, eventually bringing in the delta variant. This caused the most recent spike in cases amongst younger men. The decision to allow the euro fan-zone in Glasgow signalled that mixing was fine despite the government knowing that the variant was more transmissible when less than half were fully vaccinated.

The irony is that economies in East Asia and Oceania have largely been open for a year now, never needing the draconian measures that caused our economy to be the worst hit in the G7. All this was achieved by effective track and trace, sanctioned quarantine and restricted international travel. If the UK governments had learned from these countries we would have been out of lockdown months ago. Instead we have the prospect of importation of new variants, potentially moving us back into lockdown. As Brian Wilson states, all the good work comes undone particularly when politics prevails over science.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

Name the date

With lockdown soon to end, albeit precariously, it's time for the SNP to name a date for Indyref2. Nicola Sturgeon has focused long and hard on Covid to almost the exclusion of all else. Although she will continue working to contain Covid, there is now no reason why this clear manifesto pledge should not be fulfilled. After all, the raison d'etre of the SNP is independence.

As this unprincipled Tory government stumbles from one crisis to another, its mercurial PM will most likely call an early General Election in 2023, therefore Indyref2 must be in the spring of 2022. Unionists will continue spreading division and uncertainty as the case for independence grows stronger.

Finally, it is vital that all Yes groups and SNP branches come together to pressure the SNP leadership at this autumn's conference to name the date for Indyref2 –unity of purpose will win the day!

Grant Frazer, Newtonmore, Highland

Economic suicide

With an open border between Scotland and England, the option of economic diversion is practically closed. This harsh reality is perfectly illustrated with the current air travel quarantine fiasco. Yes, the Scottish Government can impose a tighter Covid regime but only by risking the financial future of domestic operators.

Scots are already planning our holidays along the path of least resistance and most certainty. If TUI flying from Manchester can guarantee a Canaries tan without a return ban then bypassing Edinburgh and Glasgow airports makes sense.

Nicola Sturgeon can’t change this market dynamic without a hard border and that’s the central point she’s reluctant to concede. Her form of independence (back in the EU) would create myriad mindless inconsistencies for Scottish business to traverse. It could only work by destroying Scottish jobs or restricting both our financial and physical freedom of movement.

Calum Miller, Prestonpans

Fan behaviour

For once I tend to agree with Brian Monteith about the unfortunate “Anyone but England” attitudes of some Scots, although, as usual, Mr Monteith is using it to make a cheap political point (Perspective, 12 July).That said, had he witnessed, as I often did while working down south during the Eighties and Nineties, the revolting obsessive behaviour of English fans any time they played Germany, he might understand why many other nationalities as well as Scots don’t exactly have a soft spot for English footballing success.

D Mitchell, Edinburgh

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English views

Brian Monteith is greatly mistaken if he thinks “Anyone But England” is limited to some Scottish nationalists, as several of the staunchest Unionists I know wanted England to lose every game they played as in football terms they are our biggest rivals. The National front page he references was a lighthearted poster reflecting what most Scottish football fans felt.

Although Gareth Southgate has had a good press, until his penalty kick choices, he let himself down when he referred to the Second World War in the build-up to the final and even thought England was an island. England is not Britain so why should they use God Save the Queen as their anthem? The main reason many Scots wanted England to lose is down to the insufferable jingoism of English commentators and pundits as we were forced to view every game through an English lens.

Those who want the Union to continue should start campaigning for broadcasting to be devolved so that we can at least see international events, not just football, from a Scottish perspective.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh

Get tough

England did well – if being a little lucky – to reach the Euros final. Southgate has put together a talented football team, but the nation of England did not deserve to win. The better team did on the night, but so many England fans disgraced their country by booing the national anthems of their opponents, fighting the police and racially abusing their own players that the penny must surely drop.

“Nobody Likes Us, We Don't Care!”? The FA really should, and get tough with the brand of ignorant xenophobia which sullies their name and their country.

David Roche, Coupar Angus, Perth & Kinross

Left is right

My sympathy to Colin McAllister for the stigma suffered by left handers, though he has obviously borne this with grace and good humour. I am naturally right handed but for some reason favour a left-handed grip for a cricket bat and would need left-handed golf clubs if I played. Years ago the local park had tennis courts and a putting green, and after whacking the ball around the court my pal and I would I would often pick up putters for a round on the beautifully kept green; but strangely enough my natural leftie opponent needed the right-handed one and I the left!

Andrew Kemp, Rosyth, Fife

A cut above

Mr McAllister should cheer up. And take up letter cutting, especially in wood. He will become ambidextrous as he has to be able to hold the chisel in left and right hands. No longer condemned as gauche, he can self-assess honestly and become more useful!

John D Spencely CBE, Edinburgh

Pyramid game

After reading about the antics of the Woke and noting their “repositioning” of statues in disapproval of the past actions of others, may I make a suggestion. They need a bigger stage. Strong rumours have reached me that extensive use of slavery was involved in the erection of the pyramids in Egypt. Would it not attract global attention if these monstrosities were to be disassembled’?

As a gesture of respect to all those who died in their construction I would suggest that the job be carried out one stone at a time – the way they were put up and, when the task was complete, perhaps all those involved could stand silently in the resultant fields of rubble stretching to the horizon and survey their own contribution to life on Earth.

Ken McClure, East Saltoun, East Lothian

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