RICHARD Leonard has been described as “hapless” by the SNP after he attacked the First Minister’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

The Scottish Labour leader said that if the Scottish Government had entered lockdown sooner, lives could have been spared.

He’s called on Nicola Sturgeon to take personal responsibility for many of the Scottish Covid-19 deaths.

Leonard said she held many of the powers needed to implement a lockdown before the UK wide restrictions were brought in on March 23.

The SNP said the comments were “desperate”.

In a statement, Leonard said: “It is clear that the decision to implement lockdown in Scotland and the rest of the UK was taken too late and with awful consequences.

“The diverging approaches to lifting lockdown now are another clear indication that the Scottish Government had the chance to act differently to the rest of the UK back in February and March but chose not to.

“Despite Holyrood holding many of the powers required to implement something approximating lockdown, the First Minister openly declared her opinion that the lockdown must be approached as a UK-wide matter.

“Expert opinion has concluded that the decision to lockdown was taken too late and lives have been lost as a result. The responsibility for this lies with Boris Johnson and his government but it also lies with the First Minister.”

SNP MSP George Adam hit back. He said: “Even by Richard Leonard’s shoddy standards this is desperate stuff. With the benefit of hindsight he is implying he would have adopted a different strategy during this unprecedented pandemic rather than go with the best scientific advice available when decisions were taken.

“Any fool can appear knowledgeable after the event when armed with facts yet, when it comes to making big calls under pressure, the hapless Labour leader is invariably found wanting.

“The people of Scotland will be relieved Nicola Sturgeon is in control and Richard Leonard is nowhere near government in this time of crisis.”

Last month a team of scientists at the University of Edinburgh told the BBC that more than 2000 coronavirus deaths could have been prevented if Scotland had locked down two weeks earlier. The Scottish government said its actions had been guided by the best and most up-to-date scientific advice.

Meanwhile, the scientist who co-discovered the Ebola virus said a second wave of coronavirus in the UK was likely.

Peter Piot said he hoped this new attack would be a “series of local outbreaks”, rather than a “tsunami” across the country.

But this would depend on people following the guidelines.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, the director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said: “So what is going to happen nearly certainly is a so-called second wave of outbreaks.

“And I don’t think – and I hope it’s not going to be a tsunami – if only because it won’t take us by surprise as it has taken other countries and we know much better what to do.

“It will depend on whether today everybody, every single individual, follows the guidelines in terms of social distancing, and whether also we can turn care homes, whether we can turn health services and slaughterhouses where there are many infections, into safe places.

“So probably what we will see is a series of local outbreaks. It doesn’t mean a major second wave or third wave, and because this is what will happen, the virus will not disappear one fine day. Forget it.”

The scientist added he was “not rigid” about the two-metre social distancing rule.

He continued: “It created actually a false sense of security – it’s not suddenly beyond two metres there’s no risk. I’d rather be at one metre of someone who is infected, but if both of us wear a mask than at two metres without a mask.”

Professor Piot also said the government’s 14 day quarantine for all travellers coming into the UK was too late.

“That only would have made sense at the very beginning,” he said.