I WAS impressed by the performance of the First Minister, cabinet secretaries, opposition leaders and MSPs in general at the time of the First Minister’s Statement on the pandemic on Tuesday afternoon. I was particularly taken by the general expressions of good faith and mutual trust as expressed, for example, by the Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw’s assertion that he had “every confidence” in the First Minister as she led the country’s response ("Conservative leader in show of support for Sturgeon", The Herald, March 18).

In these challenging times the whole country must come together in a display of resilience and solidarity and it was good to see the Holyrood politicians setting a positive example to the rest of us.

I assume that your more cynical readers will suggest that I am being naive. I would reject that on the grounds that I for one found their conduct very reassuring and we need such reassurance.

The burden of responsibility does not fall entirely on the shoulders of the politicians but on the whole of society. I hope we can follow the example set on Tuesday in the chamber at Holyrood and rise to the challenge by setting aside self-interest and acting on what we are being asked to do.

If we manage to do this we could emerge a more effective, less individualistic, society from this experience.

John Milne, Uddingston.

IF there's one thing this unprecedented pandemic has shown, we're a' Jock Tamson's bairns.

That Scotland is the independent nation that it is and always has been has shone through the rapid onslaught of this fearsome event and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has embodied the staunch response of her countrymen and women. Her tone throughout has been firm, calm, and her words realistic. Morale in Scotland is unlikely the worse for her public statements on this crisis of health and wellbeing.

It must be the case that she has been a welcome presence at the Cobra meetings in Downing Street, and it should be recognised post-the-crisis that normalcy in Scotland's presence as a self-ruling member of the world's nations will similarly be a bonus whenever member nations of the UN meet in discussion of urgent matters.

Ian Johnstone, Peterhead.

COUNCILLOR Alex Gallagher (Letters, March 16) seems to think that striving for national unity or independence, as in Scottish nationalism, somehow prevents co-operation or working together for a common cause, i.e. the defeat of the coronavirus. There is no reason to suppose that an independent Scotland would be devoid of entente cordiale and fail to join other nations in the global fight against this nasty virus. Nationalism and co-operation are not naturally exclusive.

Margaret MH Lyth, Uddingston.

I CAN think of no other event that can unify us, "man to man the world o'er," than this worldwide coronavirus emergency. It would be good if we could continue this co-operation long after this emergency passes but without the hysterics of those who have exacerbated the problem by panic buying and hoarding.

However I fear when science eventually does finds the Covid-19 antidote, just like other superbugs its big brother David-21 will come along, with attitude and we will see the same me, me, me attitude all over again from those who would otherwise claim to be caring and altruistic.

Allan Thompson, Bearsden.

WITH regard to Alison Darling's uninformed comments on the coronavirus (Letters, March 18), she doesn’t appear to understand that each country in Europe is at a different stage with the virus and must act accordingly not to swamp their own medical resources. Furthermore, she appears to be blissfully unaware about the comprehensive financial package to support businesses and individuals which has been announced by the UK Government (which compare extremely favourably with other Europeans countries) with the promise of further action to follow when required. Furthermore, unlike Spain, we have a very low unemployment rate (Spain five times higher) and a much better debt to GDP ratio which means we can borrow at a more attractive rates. We are also very fortunate we have our own currency and Central Bank and not under the control of the European Central Bank like Spain.

Finally, let us hope there is not a repeat of the hundreds of thousands of people that fled Spain which followed the last financial crisis in 2008 – after all, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said: “The coronavirus pandemic is a public health emergency but it is also an economic emergency”.

Ian Lakin, Aberdeen AB13.

ECONOMIES have a natural tendency to bounce back from a recession, regardless of the size of the initial shock. In modern times around 70 per cent lasted less than a year and only 10 per cent lasted for more than two years.

Of course we need substantial policy easing, but we're in a better position than it might appear at first sight, since our growth had pretty much petered out but our labour market is exceptionally strong.

Unemployment rose a little but is still below four per cent and as we enter a period of economic difficulty whose depth and length is unknown there are very much worse conditions in which to start, believe me.

Dr John Cameron, St Andrews.

BOTH Scottish and UK governments are making daily statements on subject of the coronavirus. Neither has given any indication that it intends to protect healthcare professionals who are "in the front line".

As a retired pharmacist, I feel very strongly that no significant protection has been offered to pharmacists and their staff who are exposed to "the potentially infected". Despite notices on shop windows such as "We have no stock of masks, gloves and hand disinfectant" they continue to come in and ask "have you got...". The GP practices and health centres have declared " Gonnae No come here" and this policy is supported by the Government(s).

Pharmacy is at the front line. Each dispensary should be provided with a protective shield – a Perpsex bank-type barrier. All front-line pharmacy staff should have total facial protection, disposable gloves and gallons of disinfectant. I know that none of these protective elements is currently provided by the Government: I accept that the NHS cannot be held responsible for this failure.

I would also point out that the owners of the pharmacies have not made any significant attempts to protect their staff. What resource will patients have if the pharmacist has to be isolated?

Stewart MacPherson, Kilsyth.

IN the torrent of instructions on various media about Covid-19 all the focus seems to be on "reducing person to person contact", with very little on the dangers of touching a surface on which virus droplets have landed. But a major infection route seems to be from surface to hand to face. Hands can be washed and surfaces can be cleaned (at intervals), but what is the relative frequency of infection by touch versus infection by coughed droplet? Are there some surfaces we should particularly avoid? Is it safer to purchase from an assistant using a contactless card, or via a smart pay machine where countless people have been touching the screen? Surely someone has researched this, for cold viruses and SARS viruses, if not yet for Covid-19?

There was a suggestion on the radio that shiny surfaces are the dangerous ones, with shiny hard plastic being worse than hard metal. It seems that any fabric or absorbent surface is much safer. Is this because they absorb the liquid in the droplet, leaving the virus vulnerable? If so, it would support what many people do, grasping door handles through a soft garment or glove.

It would be good to read an article containing answers to questions such as these.

Peter MD Gray, Aberdeen AB15.

THE news that Glasgow's Night Shelter is to close early is a terrible indictment on our society ("Night shelter for homeless to close early due to guidance to keep a safe distance", the Herald, March 18). The Night Shelter opened early last November because the weather was so bad and now, when it is still needed, it is to close early. We have a duty to provide these people, the most vulnerable in our society, with somewhere to live and to provide shelter at night is the least we can do.

Homeless people, because of their lifestyle, already use our health and social services more than those of us who have somewhere to live. This is the time for empty buildings to be brought into use and food and shelter to be provided. Time for Glasgow City Council and other local authorities, with the support of the Scottish Government, to take urgent action to protect homeless people.

Patricia Fort, Glasgow G1.

THERE seems to be some confusion, or perhaps wilful obtuseness, on the part of some presenters of Radio 4's Today and PM programmes. They keep using the pejorative term U-turn to describe a change of direction in Government reaction to the coronavirus situation. In science, when new data comes to light that an extant theory cannot accommodate then a new theory is sought that can accommodate that new data. We do not say that scientists have ''done a U-turn''. When new data came along which Newton's theory of gravity could not accommodate, Einstein devised a new theory which could accommodate the new data. Einstein did not ''do a U-turn'' on Newton's theory.

Doug Clark, Currie.

NEWS reports have shown Italians applauding front-line health workers from balconies.

While the streets in several countries hit by the present outbreak of the coronavirus are eerily almost empty of people, it is noticeable that they are also clear of piles of rubbish and litter.

In our efforts to minimise the spread of infection, of any nature, let us acknowledge the efforts of teams of council workers who help by keeping our streets clear of possible sources of disease.

Malcolm Allan, Bishopbriggs.

ALAN Fitzpatrick (Letters, March 18) makes a good point regarding the TV licence.

But why not take it a bit further? As most sporting events are being cancelled, the BBC won't need its highly-remunerated sports staff (including the Saturday night bunch), so why not send them home now and use the savings to fund free licences for the over-75s until at least next year?

If pubs and restaurants are having to lay off staff, why shouldn't the BBC?

John F Crawford, Lytham.

THE announcement that the BBC has suspended filming of EastEnders due to the coronavirus shows even the darkest cloud has a silver lining.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone.

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