THE Holyrood and Westminster governments both claim they are following “the science”. But about the only thing that’s clear in all this is that there is no such thing – maybe understandably with such a new virus.

Other expert scientists than those advising our governments (and sometimes the latter at different times) have given mixed messages, advice and/or instructions on inter alia closing Heathrow, quarantine, efficacy of testing and face masks, herd immunity, closing/re-opening schools, and the lockdown itself and its relaxation.

They obtain different results from only slightly different computer modelling, and social distancing in some countries is one or 1.5 metres versus the UK’s two metres. None of them seemed to realise until too late the need to cater specifically for care homes or to continue treating non-Covid patients (cancer, heart disease and so on). Reportedly, even now many NHS hospitals and private hospitals requisitioned by the NHS have numerous empty wards and operating theatres, not to mention the almost-unused Nightingale/Jordan hospitals.

The London advisers themselves changed overnight in mid-March from advocating herd immunity in the daily press conferences, in favour of a robust lockdown, after Imperial College published its near-apocalyptic forecast of deaths, which was based on modelling techniques and assumptions which are now utterly condemned by other expert modellers.

So what are scientific illiterates like me (and almost all politicians) supposed to do, other than tossing a coin and hoping for heads we win and tails the virus loses?

John Birkett, St Andrews.

WHILE, with the benefit of hindsight, things could have been done differently over the Nike coronavirus outbreak, it would be a very brave devolved government leader who went against the UK-wide medical advice and procedures at the time.

Test and contact tracing is only as good as the information supplied by the person affected and if they don’t mention, for example, hiring a kilt then there is no reason to contact any kilt shop.

With regard to contact tracing, was there not also a moral responsibility on Nike to inform the IT company it shared its Glasgow building with and the tour guides it hired who claim they were not contacted by health officials?

It turns out that Public Health England was part of the Incident Management Team that was provided with full details surrounding the circumstances of the Nike infections. Several delegates returned to England, but the UK public wasn’t told about this and SAGE continued to advise it was safe to go to mass gatherings.

Last week, Sir David Nabarro from the World Health Organisation praised the Scottish Government’s approach to Covid “and most importantly levelling with people what the Government is trying to work through”.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh EH11.

THE more we hear from SNP spokespersons about the Covid-19 outbreak in the Edinburgh Hilton, the less convincing and the more threadbare their defences sound.

Clearly in February of this year there was an element of complacency abroad in Government circles about the problems this coronavirus was likely to pose, the belief being that for most it posed no bigger threat than a flu except for those 70 and above.

To absolve themselves from any blame, it would have been wiser for those now fighting a rearguard action to have held up their hands and admitted to the mistake at the time.

Of course, politicians never like to acknowledge their failings, preferring to spin their way out of such situations, though that may be the default position of all institutions. Both Nicola Sturgeon and Jeane Freeman have chosen that latter route, giving rise to a strong possibility that they are involved in a cover-up to conceal incompetence.

They both argue, singing from the same hymn sheet, that patient confidentiality was their prime concern in keeping this case under wraps. But this, as we know, was a public health concern and it was vital to protect the public not from the truth but from the danger of a larger outbreak in the community. That is why it was necessary for concern for the health of the wider public to take precedence over patient confidentiality so that tracking, tracing and isolating could be pursued.

It was the failure to keep the public aim in view which produced the concealment of what transpired and that is why today those responsible are having to manufacture reasons in defence of their chosen position and are spending so much time in camouflaging what amounts to the incompetence brought about by complacency, when they should have been looking deeper into what this virus could do.

Situations of this sort undermine trust in our elected representatives.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.

ISOBEL Lindsay deserves great credit for her letter (May 20) denouncing the head of her political party for concealing the Edinburgh Nike conference Covid outbreak. It demonstrates that there is still, thank goodness, a degree of integrity in politics. It is a great pity that it had to come from one whom I would describe as an “elder stateswomen”. The present hierarchy should take note.

R. Johnston, Newton Mearns.

WHEN recent research by the London School of Economics (LSE) found that there were nearly 20,000 “excess deaths” in care homes in England and Wales to May 1 it confirmed what many have long-suspected: that Covid-19 deaths are being under-reported. In fact, a Channel 4 News report over a month ago indicated that some doctors working for health boards in England may have deliberately avoided mentioning possible Covid-19 related deaths on death certificates.

The latest ONS figures to May 8 indicate deaths across the UK in care homes at nearly 10,000 in addition to the daily figures reported by the UK Government (now over 35,000), so based on LSE numbers it is reasonable to estimate total Covid-19-related deaths across the UK as already, appallingly, in excess of 50,000.

With regard to care homes themselves, while no one would dispute the aim of regularly testing care home workers now that sufficient capacity across the UK is apparently in place, calls to regularly test all residents seem to lack understanding of the current situation. Given the fact that the antigen tests can be quite painful and possibly distressing, especially for the elderly, care home staff can understandably be reluctant to subject a resident to one test, never mind repeated tests. Furthermore, even tests carried out by trained professionals are reportedly producing up to one-in-three false negatives so after testing there is still no guarantee of absence of the virus on which clinicians and care home staff could base future decisions.

Setting aside added delays in processing, antigen home test kits produce even more unreliable results bringing into question a health strategy (separate from the UK Government’s apparent political strategy of falsely claiming much greater numbers of tests “carried out”) which will divert much-needed resources from a comprehensive Test-Trace-Isolate (TTI) strategy.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.

RAYMOND Hall (Letters, May 19) says that “the SNP dreams of sealing the border with England if only it had the power”.

Coronavirus deaths in the UK now exceed 35,000. New Zealand (with a population close to that of Scotland) closed its borders and limited the coronavirus deaths to 20. Scotland is powerless to close its borders. The results of this lack of power are clear.

Duncan Stirling, Cardross.

Read more: Letters: Buck for the Nike silence must stop at the top