Virtual house arrest of population a mistake – Letters

Scottish Government got it wrong on lockdown, a reader reckons

Did Holyrood get it wrong on lockdown? (Picture: Kenny Smith)
Did Holyrood get it wrong on lockdown? (Picture: Kenny Smith)

J’accuse! I accuse the Scottish Government of endangering people’s health through its overblown ‘stay home’ message.

Despite the largely glorious weather since lockdown, most of us have been ordered into virtual house arrest. This damages our immune system, which needs sunshine to generate vitamin D3. Plus, the air in the average house is laden with chemicals which building biology tells us are as dangerous as those on a moderately polluted street. Quite apart from the physical damage, the mental health consequences of this heavy-handed policy don’t bear thinking about. People staring at the walls (we don’t all have gardens or second homes), and ‘domestics’ resulting in victims scarred for life, including school-denied children forced to witness it.

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The lockdown was certainly initially necessary to avoid overwhelming the Tories’ culpably under-resourced NHS, but asap thereafter we should have adopted the relaxed Swedish approach. Admittedly, their per capita death rate from Covid-19 is now rising significantly, but they haven’t trashed their economy and, taking the herd immunity view, other nations will catch up, especially on the expected second wave.

We need to abandon the lockdown but insist on masking and distancing (though not the obsessive 2-metre dogma, while the World Health Organisation recommends only one). And where there are localised R number flare-ups, the lockdown must be re-imposed.

Holyrood has failed to abandon its narrow view of the health consequences of this pandemic; we’ll be paying the price for decades.

George Morton, Hudson Road, Rosyth

R you serious?

Nicola Sturgeon and her computer-model worshipping advisers keep reminding us of the importance of the SARS-CoV-2 R number in determining the strategy for coping with the spread of the disease.

The R number calculation is, simplistically, R=N/E where R = the reproduction rate, N = the new cases and E = the existing cases. As matters stand, nobody knows the number of new cases (within +/- c500 per cent) and nobody knows the number of existing cases (within +/- c500 per cent). Normally, this would make any attempt at calculating an R number quite laughable but, of course, we in the UK are now accustomed to being controlled by academics plucking random numbers and putting them into their dodgy spreadsheets to produce their utterly hopeless computer models.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, our political mistresses and masters appear to regard anything called a computer model with the kind of reverence normally reserved for the greatest deities.

Viola Stephenson, North Connel, Argyl

Price of panic

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Claims that Scotland’s death rate in care homes is twice that of England’s (Victor Clements, Letters, 27 May) are easily disproved by LSE research which attributed 22,000 care home Covid-19 deaths in England and by euromomo.eu, who monitor excess mortality rates above the norm. This shows Scotland peaked at 15.60 and latest figure is 3.36, whereas England peaked at 42.34 and is now 16.22, which is the highest in Europe.

In addition, compared to England, Scotland’s mortality among key workers is lower and as we have assessment centres protecting GP surgeries and cleaner hospitals with better staffing levels, this has led to a higher Covid-19 recovery rate.

With the benefit of hindsight, all four UK countries overreacted to UK Cobra briefings in early March that hospitals were facing 100,000s of additional Covid patients and so discharged many elderly patients who weren’t displaying Covid symptoms, but overall, the Scottish government has performed much better than the UK government.

Scientists on the UK government’s coronavirus advisory group claimed Dominic Cummings was an active participant and Sage’s recommendations no doubt influenced Scotland’s early slavish adherence to the UK advice when, as an independent country, we could have locked down earlier, just like Ireland, and saved many lives.

Mary Thomas, Watson Crescent, Edinburgh

Coin of realm?

We are in the throes of a horrific global pandemic causing thousands of premature deaths, vast grief for thousands in the UK alone, fear, self-isolation, wholesale job losses, bankruptcies and catastrophic devastation of our economy. In the face of this, the Prince of Wales, from the pampered enclave of Windsor Castle, his second home (one of many) “laments ‘heartbreaking’ cancellation of orchestral shows”, headlined thus in your article (26 May).

I frequently wonder if our heir to the throne is “the full shilling”.

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David Hollingdale, Easter Park Drive, Edinburgh

Error of his ways

Dominic Cummings’ admission at his press conference that he makes mistakes every day is for me a bigger concern than his travel to Durham. How can the Prime Minister rely on his advice when so many mistakes are being made? If I had an employee who made mistakes every day I would be questioning their competence and status.

Bill Anderson, Glamis Gardens, Dalgety Bay, Fife

Humpty Boris

Of more concern than Dominic Cummings’s flouting of government guidelines is the Prime Minister’s endorsement of the breach. He speaks of integrity, adopting the Humpty Dumpty principle; it was he who said: “When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.”

But there is a deeper concern still. Clearly Boris Johnson is prepared to give extraordinary influence to an unelected and unaccountable adviser and wants to retain that in spite of it damaging his own moral and political authority to lead this government. Cummings’s role is a classic case of power without responsibility and his continuation in it is an affront to the electorate.

Geoff Miller, Newtyle, Blairgowrie

Eye don’t believe it!

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Dominic Cummings argues that he made a 60-mile round trip by car to test his eyesight and his fitness to drive. Mr Michael Gove has apparently done something similar. Faced with that concern most of us would test ourselves by reading a UK number plate at a distance of 20 metres (or failing as the case may be).

Graham Duncan, St Lawrence House, Haddington

Cue chickens

In the past few days I have come to the conclusion that a new political party is emerging from south of the Border. I will give it a name, the Hubris Party.

Inevitably overestimation of capabilities has resulted in loss of contact with reality. Ultimately the chickens will come home to roost.

Barton Brown, Springfield Gardens, Aberdeen

Poor pupils

‘Blended learning’ is almost certainly a phrase conjured up in the leafy corridors of Moray House to euphemistically describe what will be happening in schools in the next academic year. Absolute nightmare for all concerned seems more realistic.

G Miller, Grahamsdyke Road, Bo’ness

Half an idea

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Two of my elderly neighbours told me of their experience of schooling at Boroughmuir High School during the war. When there was a shortage of teachers, because so many were called up, pupils attended part time schooling, either morning or afternoon. This worked well and their education did not suffer. They both went on to university and in time became teachers themselves.

I realise this is a different but, in some ways a similar situation. I wonder if such an arrangement has been considered. Half the number of pupils would need to be accommodated at a time, so social distancing would be easier. It could be a simpler arrangement for both teachers and parents. Those pupils with special educational and social needs could be considered for a full day.

Chris Seiler, Spylaw Bank Road, Colinton, Edinburgh

The game’s afoot

I note that the large number of operational issues to be considered before outside sports facilities can be reopened, referred to in Edinburgh Leisure’s announcement of 21 May have now become, according to their latest announcement, on 26 May, and presumably after consideration, ‘operational challenges’. Such progress in five days!

John Wann, Greenbank Crescent, Edinburgh

Funny old ‘fears’

The job retention or furlough scheme and its equivalent for the self-employed covers 10 million people, nearly a third of all people in work and more than 35 per cent of those in the private sector. It’s quite the most extraordinary government intervention in my life.

Given the good weather, it’s no wonder the scheme has proved popular. As the cost will largely fall on the English one cannot help but smile when one hears Scots claim to be ‘afraid’ to return to work and encourage the First Minister to extend lockdown.

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(Rev Dr) John Cameron, Howard Place, St Andrews

It’s oh so noisy

Between boy racers roaring down the local streets and dual carriageway at 100mph, and giant RAF A400M Transport planes flying overhead (in and out of Glasgow Airport) at increasing monotony night and day, I’ll soon be glad when the lockdown’s over for a bit of peace and quiet!

Mark Boyle, Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Government cuts

Nicola Sturgeon insists she’s cutting and colouring her own hair. I’m no expert but it looks pretty good to me.

At least she’ll have an honest career to fall back on if Salmondgate revelations result in Joanna Cherry getting the top job. Every cloud and all that.

Martin Redfern, Woodcroft Road, Edinburgh

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