SCOTLAND and the UK are out of sync with almost everywhere else in the world in how we are trying to tackle this coronavirus outbreak. Our current approach is at odds with what is being recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is concerning how little this is being challenged and disturbing how few people seem to be aware of UK exceptionalism on this matter.

We are not “following the science”, as “experts” and politicians of various colours frequently suggest. The scientific community is divided over the best way forward and we are following a particular reading of the science. WHO has consistently advised all countries to test, track and trace every suspected case of the virus. The overwhelming majority of national governments are taking this approach.

The UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) is the body advising our politicians. As far as I understand, Sage does not believe we can contain the virus using the WHO’s methodology. Our Government is, therefore, not making the same effort as others to stop the virus spreading, while attempting to control it in a manner that doesn’t put excessive pressure on the NHS at any particular point during the outbreak. The reason we are testing four times less than Germany is more to do with a difference in approach, rather than an issue of capacity.

I am not a scientific authority so my opinion is worth little on this matter. However, the fact the UK is taking a different approach is concerning, given the WHO’s history in dealing with virus outbreaks. What I find alarming is the lack of discussion, and seeming lack of knowledge, about the path we are on.

We must come together to overcome this problem but people will only buy into a collective effort if they have at least a basic understanding of what we are trying to do and why. “We know best – trust us” will not do. Scrutiny, questions and critique are vital when there is still much to learn, time is of the essence and so much is at stake.

Much of what we usually do has become irrelevant in these extraordinary times. Conversely, this situation demands us to be well informed about certain things most of us would normally have little interest in. A widespread understanding of how our Government is trying to tackle this coronavirus is crucial to overcoming it.

Kennedy Stewart, Lerwick.

WHILE the Government is to be commended for much of the action taken so far and as the country and the NHS buckles down to cope with possibly then greatest challenge since the Second World War, there is one shut-down whose consequences, I suggest, may not have been fully considered.

I refer to that affecting patients suffering from inoperable and incurable cancers, of which I, unfortunately, am one. We have been informed that endoscopy units, where palliative care such as periodically burning of the growth with lasers takes place, have been closed indefinitely.

Last summer, I was given the bleak prognosis of anything from six months to 11 months. My cancer was subjected to laser burning and not only do I neither look or feel like a cancer sufferer, my tumour had actually shrunk slightly after my last treatment.

There will be, I am sure, many more like me throughout Scotland, people whose life expectancy depends on the success of this treatment and I have no wish to jump any queue. But it seems illogical to me to deny treatment to people who actually need it, so that resources can be diverted and reserved for those who might need it.

I realise the NHS is and will be under tremendous pressure in the weeks and months to come and that only a minority are thus affected, but surely the Government has a duty of care to us as much as to potential Covid-19 victims?

I have been told that the only way I might be treated will be if I become an emergency case, i.e. if I begin to bleed uncontrollably, or my oesophagus obstructs. By then, I suggest, it may be beyond remedy.

Surely, we too are entitled to hope for such life as can be procured for us by this vital treatment to spend with our loved ones.

Charles Duncan, Glasgow G12.

THIS Covid-19 crisis must surely spell the end of the road for our self-indulgent entitlement society with its emphasis upon the rights of the individual.

Now we must recapture a sense of responsibility and sacrifice to protect the community at large.

Only today I heard of a shopper displaying the height of irresponsibility in a local supermarket.

That person was wandering through the aisles, coughing, sneezing and spluttering while making no attempt to cover nostrils or mouth.

Shops would be well advised to put up posters at their entrances in bold, clear type asking customers displaying such symptoms not to enter their stores and to get neighbours to shop for them or order their goods online.

Knowing full well that the NHS could well be swamped with so many cases that they will be unmanageable, we may have to adopt the time-honoured custom of women and children first in an emergency.

If the hospital system reaches such a breaking point, then priorities about deciding who can be treated successfully will have to come into the equation.

These are hard choices but they will have to be taken in the interests of the wider community.

The Devil Take The Hindmost and the I’m all right Jack mentalities have to be flushed out of our societal system if we are to survive as a species.

This pandemic is but one manifestation of where responsibilities need to take precedence over rights.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.

WHILE there has been justified criticism of panic buyers and hoarders in the current Coronavirus emergency, there is another type whose activities are even more deserving of the public’s scorn, namely the profiteers.

Yesterday, when we were down our last bar of our preferred soap, Imperial Leather, I idly browsed eBay. Prices for this soap varied from around £1 a bar, not unreasonable, to £49 for six, to three figures for the same, but as far as £1,119 for six bars. It seems that some scabrous Thatcherites are cashing in on the shortages that they have helped to create. At the same time online footage of a tearful nurse at the end of a lengthy shift gazing at supermarket shelves picked clean by “locusts” arouses our indignation. While Kevin McKenna (“This mortal threat could change our society for better”, The Herald, March 21) writes in hope that the current emergency may bring out the best in our citizenry, the evidence seems to suggest the reverse. Forty years of neo-liberalist doctrines backed by successive Conservative governments are reaping their grim harvest.

Similar outbreaks of profiteering occurred at the beginning of both world wars and eventually the governments of the day, deciding that “the market” was not sacrosanct, introduced rationing. While this may be an over-reaction at this point, eBay should consider action to prevent leeches taking advantage of the short-term misery of health and other key workers.

Larry Cheyne, Bishopbriggs.

MANY thanks and congratulations to Tom Gordon for his article “Death was doing the rounds long before the virus arrived” (The Herald, March 21). The statistics he provides are a much-needed reality check on the current Covid19 situation and should give us all pause for reflection.

Jessie Reid, Dalry.

THERE has been much media discussion and comment over recent days around the measures proposed to ensure that support is provided for workers whose income streams are interrupted during the ongoing crisis. A recurring issue concerns self-employed persons whose plight appears to be perplexing Government spokespersons. Surely all such individuals will be in possession of accounts and tax return records to demonstrate their normal income levels in order to obtain support from public funds. There is also the option, if they are fit and well and not required to self-isolate, to seek temporary employment in a local supermarket.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.

WHEN anti-coronavirus measures are being considered, may I ask for the importance of walking for exercise for the sake of one’s health to be taken on board?

It seems to be that “stay at home” is being used as meaning the same as “don’t mix with others,” but they aren’t equivalent. The latter is highly desirable, but there is no need to stay at home to walk in the countryside or along a canal, where the risk of catching or spreading infection would appear to be negligible.

People need exercise as well as dogs. As a dogless walker, I have the experience of being looked at strangely because I walk without a dog.

Paul Brownsey, Bearsden.

HAVING failed to be able to buy contributions for the food bank at a supermarket I wonder if they could set up an online contribution service. People could even select from a list of items most needed at food banks, pay, and the items could be kept behind the

scenes to be distributed directly as a priority.

Elizabeth Allen, Glasgow G11.

THANK you so such much for your very moving front page (March 17) “When you’re on your own, we are there with you” and the words signed by your editor, Donald Martin. Your headline moved me to tears. It was such a welcome change from the scare stories which many papers seem to prefer. I note from your report on Page 2 that a number of regional papers took this common approach.

I also want to say a huge thank you to my newsagent (Knox News in Dunbar) and my paper deliverer (Oliver) who are keeping deliveries going very efficiently (and also did so two years ago during the Beast from the East). I am very glad to have a subscription to The Herald, and I value it even more at this time.

Dr Gareth Morgan, Dunbar.

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