WHILST there has been much focus on trying to deal with the spread of the virus amongst the population, there has been little from the Government on prevention of exploitation and manipulation of the stock market by city traders who will see the current problems as an opportunity to make money through short selling and the like.

The potential for damage to the economy is significant without exploitation making matters worse.

Bill Eadie, G44 3 HA.

THE media has reflex-blamed the coronavirus for yesterday's "Black Monday" stock market crash (March 9), when it was clearly triggered by Saudi Arabia slashing prices to punish Russia's refusal to cut production.

This is far from the first time the irresponsible Saudi dictatorship has triggered a massive global financial catastrophe on a whim – they slashed production in the 1970s to punish the west for backing Israel in the Yom Kippur War, triggering that decade's global recession.

The Saudis actions will oh-so-conveniently also wipe out most of the mercurial shale oil and gas industry – in the same way that get-rich-quick folly was wiped out first time round in the 1920s. The Kingdom of Saud saw an opportunity to destroy competition and took it.

What was that again Karl Marx said about history repeating itself? First time tragedy, second time farce?

Mark Boyle, Johnstone.

WHEN assessing the risks associated with coronavirus, we can take some comfort that Scotland has almost twice as many hospital beds per 1,000 population than in England plus a higher percentage of nurses and doctors.

According to the OECD, England has a much lower ratio of hospital beds per capita than Estonia, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Ireland or Iceland and a much poorer provision than Russia France or Germany. Under the Tories, England now has fewer doctors and nurses per head than almost any developed country.

Commenting on the fact that due to NHS cuts infant mortality is increasing in England, while Scotland invested and reduced the infant mortality rate, Professor Danny Dorling from Oxford University told BBC News that “Scotland is moving closer towards that of Scandinavia where Finland has the lowest infant mortality rate in the world. The UK is splitting apart in terms of spending, policy, beliefs and outcomes”.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh EH11.

I HAVE learned that the word "coronavirus" covers a large family of viruses ranging from the common cold to more severe respiratory diseases. Most of us suffer the symptoms of the common cold from time to time, which are unpleasant, but we recover. We are meanwhile told to handwash frequently, sneeze into tissues and not to panic-buy toilet rolls. All, for many of us, are normal activities; especially not indulging in toilet-roll panic-buying.

As far as toilet roll provision is concerned there is always the relatively happy activity of cutting one's newspapers into squares and threading them onto string to hang by the toilet. This was an activity undertaken in my childhood, during and after the Second World War and made for happier visits to my grandmother's outside toilet than when the choice on offer was either Bronco or San Izal rolls. As for handwashing, those of us who wash our used crockery, cutlery and pans three times each day, having no dish-washer, have our hands in hot soapy water for rather longer than standing with a bar of soap singing Happy Birthday2 twice over. That can be used at other times. Actually, as I live alone, I am seriously wondering why I have increased the hand-washing far beyond the normal number of times I usually employ. I must try to keep a sense of proportion.

If needs must I will be buying several other papers, as well as The Herald, to keep up my stock of toilet paper. I could be in for a “ripping time”.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.

I WAS listening to a discussion on Saturday on BBC Radio 4 Women's Hour about coronavirus.

It started with a professor saying the UK numbers continue to be low. With that in mind and with 10 minutes to fill, the conversation naturally turned to the vital issue of the impact on schoolchildren.

They might be low risk but they've been shown how to keep their hands clean and the panel were very worried that this would badly affect kids with OCD and make them, obsessively and compulsively, wash their hands.

They were also worried about a potential increase in bullying of children of immigrants from countries with larger numbers of cases.

The good news was an unintended side benefit of coronavirus could be a resolution to the growing "epidemic" of schoolchildren not knowing they should wash their hands before eating and after going to the toilet.

Public service broadcasting at its best.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.

PERHAPS Michael Collie (Letters, March 6) may not have heard the opinion of Dr Richard Hatchett on Channel 4 . The sensational element of some media coverage should be ignored, better to listen to the opinions of experts such as Dr Hatchett.

Information from Government sources should also be analysed carefully, for example the non-existent talks with supermarket bosses.

Information from experts in their fields should be accepted and Government announcements taken with just a little grain of salt.

Meanwhile, keep washing hands and sneezing into handkerchiefs, but before you are advised or “forced” to stay away from crowded areas such as cinemas, gyms, football matches and so on, for your own sake just do that. No need to wait for the official advice or instructions, which will surely come very soon.

Malcolm Rankin, Seamill.

ON Saturday I visited my local supermarket to buy breakfast rolls. These, along with other bakery products, were in open wicker baskets with tongs to lift them.

I waited behind a lady who chose to pick them with her hands while she coughed over the display. I decided to follow my wife's repeated advice not to purchase unwrapped baking.

I compare this situation to one of the German supermarkets I use when on holiday in Spain. There all bakery goods are on shelves behind Perspex panels through which a padel extends. The customer uses the padel to push their chosen purchase over to a drawer which is then pulled out to retrieve their purchase. The customer only has contact with the item being bought.

The same German supermarket, however, uses open wicker baskets for their products in this country.

Why are the food hygiene standards inferior in Scotland to our continental neighbours and should these not be addressed as a matter of urgency?

Robert Aitken, Glasgow G76.

Read more: Coronavirus: Nicola Sturgeon blasts panic buying as Scottish cases rise to 23