THE growing problem of clusters of coronavirus infections across Scotland is taxing the minds of our national health experts and the Scottish Government, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon expecting the number to increase.

As she said on Monday: “We’ve seen a few of these clusters now and, unfortunately, it’s very likely that we’ll see more of them in the weeks ahead.”

Perhaps significantly, she would not rule out the introduction of large-scale localised lockdowns. Today, she implemented tigher restrictions on the city of Aberdeen.


In Aberdeen, people in Aberdeen should not travel more than five miles for recreation. Pubs, restaurants must close from 5pm. People in Aberdeen should also not go into other people’s homes.

Those not in Aberdeen are being advised not to travel there.

In Leicester, at the beginning of July, there were limits on social gatherings and hotels, bans on more than one household meeting up, and pubs and restaurants were closed.

People or businesses repeatedly flouting the laws received fines of up to £3200.

We could also see travel restrictions, as happened in the Dumfries and Galloway mini lockdown in early July. 


THE outbreak of typhoid fever which killed three people and hospitalised hundreds across the Granite City in May 1964 is often erroneously thought to have resulted in a lockdown.

That official status did not happen, due to the outbreak being quickly traced to a meat-slicing machine in a William Low supermarket. What did happen was that the press and media went nuts over the story and after one expert advised no travel north of Stonehaven one headline read “City Under Siege” so that people avoided Aberdeen. The outbreak was over within six weeks but the city’s tourism industry collapsed.

The National: A relative talks to a patient through a window after people were quarantined in hospital, with no physical contact, during Aberdeen’s 1964 typhoid outbreakA relative talks to a patient through a window after people were quarantined in hospital, with no physical contact, during Aberdeen’s 1964 typhoid outbreak


MOST certainly. During the Spanish flu pandemic which started in Scotland in Glasgow in May, 1918, local authorities had their own individual approaches to dealing with outbreaks. That included restricting travel and closing premises to disinfect and fumigate them.

In 1900, the Gorbals in Glasgow was effectively made a no-go area by Bubonic Plague.

Much further back, Scotland had developed a quite sophisticated system for dealing with the outbreaks of the “pest”, as plague was usually known. The authorities simply banned travel to and from affected towns and anyone who didn’t self-isolate when infected was taken out and killed.

The records of Glasgow show that in 1574, the provost, bailies, and council, “understanding that the contagious sickness called the pest “ had newly broken out in the realm, take strenuous measures to protect their “gud town thairfra”.

Renwick and Lindsay’s History of Glasgow records: “No persons coming from Leith, Kirkcaldy, Dysart or Burntisland were to be admitted within the burgh or traded with, and in the case of Edinburgh, where the outbreak was so far confined to Bell’s Wynd, only such persons as brought certificates from the magistrates of the capital were to be admitted.

“Further, no person was to bring goods from these or other infected places on pain of death. No pipers, fiddlers, minstrels or vagabonds were to remain in the town without special permit from the provost.

“All beggars not born in the burgh were to depart within 24 hours on pain of burning in the cheek. If any person in the town fell sick the master of the house was to report the occurrence at once and every dead body was to be inspected by an appointed officer before being placed in the winding sheet. Searchers were appointed for the different districts to visit each house morning and evening, and make sure that the regulations were enforced. Any neglect was to be punished by banishment.”

And all the evidence is that Glasgow’s plague lockdown worked.