JUST imagine that the Johnson Government had failed to make public the first major coronavirus outbreak in the UK which had taken place among conference delegates at the Park Lane Hilton. Imagine that the public health obligation to trace and test had failed even to contact all who were known to be in the hotel over the conference period given what we knew about how highly infectious the virus was. Imagine that no effort was made to trace taxi drivers and shops known to have been visited by delegates. Many of these people may have had vulnerable family at home.

If this suppressed information had then been discovered six weeks later and the only spurious excuse Boris Johnson could make was patient confidentiality, what would have been the reaction of all the opposition parties and much of the media? I suspect the conclusion would have been that the confidentiality being protected was that of the Hilton which would immediately have lost most of its bookings had the information been made public.

Wherever we are coming from politically (and I am an independence supporter and on the left), it is in all of our interests to maintain high standards in public life. I am ashamed that any Scottish public health official should try to justify what happened with regard to the Nike conference in Edinburgh ("Freeman defends early Covid response", The Herald, May 18), but the responsibility for this failure of public duty lies squarely at the top.

Isobel Lindsay, Biggar.

THE lifting of the Scottish lockdown depends on an effective track and trace mechanism. The events at the Edinburgh Nike conference at the end of February do not instil confidence in this system.

Despite Nicola Sturgeon's dismissal of the notion of a "cover-up" as political, it was certainly ineffective. Since the revelations by the BBC, a number of potential, if not actual, victims from this original source have emerged. Track and trace never found them.

There are still many questions to be answered over the handling of this and these answers must come urgently before lockdown is lifted with track and trace as its replacement. Transparency is needed now from the Scottish

Government, but it might have to include admitting to having made specific mistakes right from the start.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow G77.

THE incoming Royal Society president, the distinguished statistician Sir Adrian Smith, asked that political leaders such as Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon who are forever saying “we are simply doing what scientists tell us” should stop passing the buck and be more open about the advice they receive.

A major failing of the coronavirus strategy north and south of the Border was how much decision-making went on in secret. He said: “Openness and transparency are essential. It's absurd the membership of Sage was only recently released and that the full minutes of its meetings are still a state secret."

There was no rigorous assessment of the radically different approaches of other nations like Sweden and lack of transparency opened both governments to accusations they were part of the Oxford University-Imperial College epidemiological turf war which led to horses being changed in mid-stream.

Rev Dr John Cameron, St Andrews.

I NOTE that Neil Gaiman made his 11,000-mile trip from New Zealand via Los Angeles and London more than two weeks ago ("Police speak to writer Gaiman after 11,000-mile trip to Skye", The Herald, May 19).

I wonder if, while sheltering in Skye, he has noticed the mysterious case of infections and 10 deaths in a Skye care home over the past two weeks and wonders if it could be the result of people like him who seem to think stay at home and do not travel does not apply to them.

My mother in law stays four miles away as the crow flies and my parents 20 miles from me. They are all in their 80s and to keep them safe we have avoided travelling to see them. Why do some people think they are above the law and the travel restrictions do not apply to them?

Dougie Jardine, Bishopbriggs.

THE first people to allowed out from lockdown should be those parents with children in flats and high-rise buildings and especially single parents. They must have suffered more than any other group of people and deserve special treatment, even more than businesses.

Ian Turner, Bearsden.

AS Nicola Sturgeon et al prepare to alter our lockdown rules I can just imagine the agonising in the SNP over what the new slogan should be. How many ways are there to say “Stay Alert” without saying it? How many Cabinet hours have been spent trying to find something new? I expect we’ll end up with “Mind yersel’!”

Iain MacDonald, Kilmacolm.

Read more: Sturgeon faces more questions