Readers' Letters: Sturgeon’s Covid dream makes zero sense

It is highly concerning that, rather than listening to the advice of scientists, Scotland's First Minister prefers, possibly for political reasons, to take the advice of “a panel of Scots convened by Holyrood's Covid-19 Committee” who recommend that continued restrictions are necessary as “an elimination strategy” to achieve and continue to have a zero covid policy in Scotland (your report, February 19).

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's Covid strategy has been praised
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's Covid strategy has been praised
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's Covid strategy has been praised

Nicola Sturgeon claims that during last summer, she was successful in more or less eradicating Covid from Scotland and that it was only, as a result of Scots returning from overseas' holidays and people coming into Scotland from other parts of the UK, that Scotland had a spike of cases.

Subsequently, to avoid the number of cases rising in Scotland, Ms Sturgeon seems to want travel restrictions, particularly preventing Scots from travelling to other parts of the UK, to remain in place indefinitely.

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However, a Covid elimination policy in Scotland is not advised by health experts including Dr Christine Tait-Burkard, Edinburgh University's research fellow in the Department of Infection and Immunity.

Her view is that Covid elimination would be “a very difficult strategy” to pursue since, unlike Australia and New Zealand, Scotland is not geographically remote but rather a multi-cultural society close to other parts of the UK and Europe.

Even Scotland's national clinical director, Dr Jason Leitch, cautions that such an approach would come at the cost of the country becoming isolated from the rest of the world.

Perhaps, Ms Sturgeon favours an elimination policy as she believes it would bring her the same amount of kudos achieved by the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, or that a policy of isolation from England would be attractive to Scottish independence supporters?

In my view, a policy of continued zero-Covid in Scotland could only be achieved by having repeated lockdowns. These would further interrupt school and university education, seriously damage the economy and worsen mental health problems.

In contrast, now that vaccination and better treatments are available, England's preferred policy of starting to live with Covid infection, as we do with influenza, would seem to have considerable merit for the whole of the United Kingdom.

Sally Gordon-Walker, Caiystane Drive, Edinburgh

Proud record?

It’s hardly surprising that the SNP focuses its election fight on independence. After 14 years in government, they could hardly fight on their record of: failure in education; failure to deliver the Sick Kids hospital on time or on budget; £40 million lost on Prestwick Airport; millions lost on BiFab; £100m overspend on ferries yet to sail; flawed and expensive farm subsidy system; late and expensive social security system; the worst record on drug deaths of any country in Europe.

On top of this, they have underfunded Local Authorities for years.

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Even the failing Scottish Qualifications Authority would award them a D minus.

Brian Barbour, Jim Bush Drive, Prestonpans

Threat off scale

While the fight against the pandemic and return to normality must be at the front of government thinking there are issues which have quietly stayed under the radar.

This applies very much to the Scottish fishing industry and our coastal communities. These areas are facing a very uncertain future given the watered down Brexit deal.

Prior to negotiation it was indicated that UK fishing waters up to 200 miles would be retained and that fishing quotas would be returned. This area is still being heavily fished by EU vessels, with resultant implications for our local land-based fish processing facilities and the many jobs involved in coastal areas.

If this continues the future of these communities and our fishing industry could come under real economic threat.

D G McIntyre, Main Street, Davidsons Mains, Edinburgh

Great news

For research to show that one jab of the Covid vaccine can reduce hospital admissions by up to 94 percent is brilliant news. Not only in relation to the virus but for the lessening of the pressures on hospitals so that sufferers of other serious illnesses, like cancer, can now receive the proper treatment which has been denied them during the course of the pandemic.

The NHS doctors and nurses have tried their level best during the pandemic to treat as many people as possible suffering from a variety of serious illnesses but it's been too limited to save many of them. Hopefully the restrictions on treatment can now be reduced with the NHS gradually returning to some sort of normality.

Bob MacDougall, Oxhill, Kippen, Stirlingshire

Flying blind

Having misappropriated the Saltire from the Scottish people for political purposes, the First Minister has now ordered that the European Flag be flown from all Scottish Government buildings.

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As we are no longer members of the European Union this latest display of omnipotence begs the question whether we have a case of “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

This decree, which includes restricting the flying of the Union Jack, confirms democratic denial, and calls into question just how far from decency and reality the Scottish Nationalists are prepared to stray.

Jane Ball, Hendersyde, Kelso

Flagging sense

All four nations of the UK are represented equally in the Union flag. It is a hybrid flag and does not represent one specific country. It is certainly not an English flag as the SNP would seem to like to suggest. Last time I looked Scotland was still a part of the UK and therefore it is entirely appropriate to fly this flag in Scotland.

Conversely, The EU flag is no longer an appropriate flag to fly in Britain. Even the SNP must be aware that we are no longer members of the EU, however much they may wish it otherwise, and this flag no longer represents the people of these islands. Nicola Sturgeon needs to be reminded that she does not only represent SNP voters, and more than half the voters in Scotland have already expressed their wish to remain part of the United Kingdom.

Meantime there are larger issues the SNP would be wise to turn its attentions to, instead of creating petty issues over a flag that millions of Scots, for hundreds of years, have been pleased to shelter beneath. Where do Scotland's schools sit in the international league tables? And will the SNP publish these figures before the May elections?

M Bowie, Edinburgh

United state

I couldn’t agree more with Richards Allison’s condemnation of the decision to fly the Union flag from Scottish government buildings only on Remembrance Day (Letters, February 22). I will only add that is very ironic that the EU flag will flutter away daily, whilst that of the nation which fought to help free Europe from the Fascist jackboot will gather dust on 364 days.Indeed, the First Minister has such an aversion to anything UK she refuses to comment on Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor’s confirmation that there would be no police checks at the border as “we are a United Kingdom”.

Apparently she knows nothing about it, despite it being in every newspaper I read yesterday, along with her very own Deputy’s response. Did her plethora of advisers also miss it?

Andrew Kemp, Mossbank, Rosyth, Fife

Unequal rights

Les Reid is right to raise the question of what difficulties lie in store for the Bible if the Hate Crime bill as currently worded becomes law (Letters, February 22). The same is, of course, true of other religious books. For example, viewed by modern Western standards both the Quran and the Ahadith of the Prophet Mohammed are also deeply problematic on grounds of sexism, homophobia and support for slavery among other things.

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However, while evangelical and other socially conservative Christians have every reason to fear the Hate Crime bill, nobody seriously believes that it will be enforced equally against conservative Muslims or other minority religions.

This differential enforcement means that in effect we are not equal before the law. The Hate Crime bill will serve to exacerbate this tendency of the authorities to treat us more less favourably according to whether we belong to a protected group or to a group labelled by progressives as oppressors.

Opposition to the Hate Crime bill should not just focus on freedom of speech but should also consider its effect in undermining equality before the law.

Otto Inglis, Ansonhill, Crossgates, Fife

Outside view

I was pleased to see that, at long last, you have printed at the foot of Brian Monteith's column the fact he was an elected Brexit Party MEP, in the unlikely event that some readers may have mistaken him for an ordinary Scottish citizen with moderate views.

It has long since puzzled me as to why he qualifies for a weekly column as his party is so out of kilter with the vast majority of people in Scotland, scraping a paltry 5 per cent of the vote at the last General Election, while representing a constituency in the north-east of England and living in France. But still he is invited regularly to pontificate on Scottish affairs in a way many other more qualified spokespeople are not.

May I suggest that in his next column he explains to the Scottish fisheries industry why their world-class products are rotting at various ports around the country due to his party’s only policy, which was to leave the EU.

D Mitchell, Coates Place, Edinburgh

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