WHILE there have undoubtedly been failures by both the Westminster and Scottish governments in their handling of the coronavirus pandemic, recriminations and finger-pointing are not really helpful at this juncture when we are some way from being out of the woods. The priority of the Scottish Government must be to bring the virus under control and provide an exit plan which details how we move from lockdown to a gradual restoration of normality.

As has been noted by many of your correspondents, the protocol for dealing with infectious diseases is test, trace, treat and isolate. However, if only part of the protocol are adhered to, and not the whole, then prevention is ineffective.

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For instance, testing in itself is meaningless if not followed through as part of the protocol. One reporter was given a sharp reply when she pertinently asked Donald Trump why he thought testing was a global competition! The same criticism could, of course, be laid at the door of Westminster.

As regards our situation in Scotland, I think there is a solution which has already been hinted at. As part of testing, comprehensive demographics should be noted. These would include age, gender, underlying health conditions, ethnicity etc, which help us to understand the virus better, especially as we know that ethnic minorities and the poor seem to be the most vulnerable. However, the most important demographic of all is the postcode.

If a person’s postcode is taken along with their sample, and the sample returns positive, then we can create a heat map of the virus in Scotland by being able to trace every positive test to a person’s location. Clusters of infection would immediately become apparent. If we include the date the sample was taken, this would also allow us to plot the development of the virus over time. The easiest way to do this effectively would be by local testing at GP surgeries and health centres. This could be done via post where facilities are not suitable for walk-in testing. Once a picture of the virus emerges, then lockdown can be gradually eased in those areas where the virus is under control.

As a data analyst by profession, I am acutely aware of the importance of data mapping in making informed decisions. Without the comprehensive picture provided by accurate data we are just groping in the dark. Absolute figures such as the number of infections and the number of deaths do little to help us bring the virus under control.

Another thing we have learned from the virus and the countries which have been most successful in dealing with it is that we need to be proactive. Maintaining the lockdown and hoping that the virus will somehow “blow over” is not going to work. We need to get a handle on it.

We are testing, treating and isolating at the moment but not tracing, and the easiest way to do this, it seems to me, is via postcode and localised (de-centralised) testing.

Solomon Steinbett

NEW data published by the National Records of Scotland shows people from the most deprived areas of Scotland are twice as likely to die from Covid-19 than people from better off areas.

This is not an accident. It’s a direct consequence of the Tories’ economically illiterate, ruinous ideological austerity. In 2010 the Tories decided that working people would pay to bail out corrupt and failing banks. The result of this was catastrophic. Wages collapsed at the same rate as Greece. Food bank use went through the roof and 120,000 deaths were linked to austerity.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is now warning about a deep recession. This is something of an understatement. The UK will soon be in the worst economic crisis since the South Sea Bubble burst in 1720.

The responsibility for unbalanced UK economy lies solely with the Tories. Their greed and incompetence lead to the policy of quantitative easing. This saw a massive unsustainable bubble be created. The Tories did not care about its sustainability as long as the donors kept Tory HQ coffers full.

Now Sunak is looking to have another round of austerity. This will involve a two-year freeze on public-sector pay. In real terms this is a pay cut on top of the 10 successive years the Tories have already cut public-sector pay. An end to the triple-lock increase on pensions that will put pensioners into more poverty. Steep rises in income tax are being proposed.

What’s not being considered by the Tories is going after tax havens under UK jurisdiction. The fat cats have trillions stashed away. That would more than solve the UK economic crisis. However, they are the donor class and the Tories are in business to protect their obscene wealth.

The Covid-19 crisis will be the end of the UK. Scottish independence is the only solution to avoid decades of Tory economic disaster.

Alan Hinnrichs

I READ the Fact Check “Busting the myth on banks bailout versus Covid cash” in yesterday’s National. I was surprised there was no mention of Northern Rock, as I have a vivid recollection of queues of customers withdrawing cash.

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At that time the chancellor, Gordon Brown, bailed them out. This prompted one writer, the late Donald Bain, to say that this was an unparalleled commitment to public money that would cause havoc. And so it came to pass.

Jim Lynch