THE concealment of the Nike coronavirus outbreak in Edinburgh is shameful. The defence of that cover-up by Nicola Sturgeon and her Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, is unforgivable. To say that by their inaction they are protecting patient confidentiality is untrue.

As a retired NHS manager I am well aware of the importance of patient confidentiality, but in the situation that arose in Edinburgh on February 26 and 27, Ms Sturgeon was so wrong. I cannot but compare our Scottish Government's cover-up with the prompt and appropriate contact tracing system enacted by Public Health Ireland.

On February 25, I and three friends returned to Glasgow from Italy, where we had been at the Italy v Scotland rugby international. We travelled via Milan and Dublin. On February 27 I received a phone call from Public Health Ireland to tell me I had been in contact with the coronavirus. A female passenger on the flight from Milan to Dublin had tested positive to the virus. All passengers were told to self-isolate and those with certain symptoms were tested. Fortunately, I was able to be tested and found to be negative. Public Health Ireland quickly held a press conference, highlighted this case and reassured the public that they were on top of any possible outbreak by acting swiftly.

The contrast between Scotland's slow and ineffective contact tracing system with that in Ireland is stark. The contrast is clear in the figures for deaths from coronavirus. The Republic of Ireland with a population of 4.93 million had on May 21 1,583 coronavirus deaths while Scotland (population 5.45 million) on May 17 recorded 3,546 coronavirus deaths.

The Scottish Government's handling of the Covid-19 emergency has been slow and ineffective to date: whether that's regarding PPE shortages, the neglect of the vulnerable in our nursing homes or introducing a contact tracing system. Much of this may be down to Scottish Government incompetence, but the political culture we have in Scotland of never admitting error or weakness could be leading to more needless deaths.

Danny Crawford, Glasgow G20.

UNLIKE Councillor Linda Holt (Letters, May 22), I found the First Minister's route map to be clear, concise and measured. Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly stressed the necessity for all of us to stay at home during this pandemic, and we are only now seeing the easing of restrictions because the vast majority of sensible people have followed that advice.

Like many others I was shocked to see on television the crowds on Portobello's promenade, and Councillor Holt claims that those scenes were repeated on other beaches. It is understandable that people, especially those without gardens, are weary of staying indoors and were tempted out into the spring sunshine, but regrettably their actions could have dire consequences for themselves and the wider population. Councillor Holt contends that Ms Sturgeon's route map is "behind the curve" with regard to takeaways and working farmers, but whilst acknowledging that takeaways could still operate, Ms Sturgeon has always urged people to think carefully before leaving home for all but essential purposes, and I don't think anyone would ever want or expect farmers to stop looking after their animals.

Rather than criticising Ms Sturgeon, may I respectfully suggest to Councillor Holt that the best thing she and all of us can do is to follow the advice from the First Minister and her advisers as they carefully lead us through this most distressing and challenging of times.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.

THE First Minister complained that the UK Government message when changed from Stay Home to Stay Alert was confusing, although many felt it was pretty simple, straightforward and self-explanatory.

I wonder how much clearer her followers and the public in general found her "remain cautious" instruction following her announcement yesterday regarding a future relaxation of the lockdown?

Pettiness personified. Pathetic.

James Martin, Bearsden.

I FEEL as if I am cracking up. For the first time ever, yesterday (May 21) I listened to the First Minister’s daily spiel on coronavirus and felt that she was genuine.

Up until now, may I say with good reason, I have suspected every word or statement she made as being just another chance to push for the only thing that means anything to her.

If she is shaking off the obsessive nationalist straitjacket that has adorned her every word for years, no-one will be happier than I.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh EH6.

I WRITE to implore the Scottish Government to allow dentists to go back to work immediately. They are so badly needed. In the new plan for coming out of lockdown plan, dentists are relegated to Phase 3 or 4 which is absurd. They are highly qualified medics and are needed now to stop suffering both physical and mental.

Mary Brown, Taynuilt.

OUR First Minister is quoted as saying "she almost felt like crying" on seeing pictures of crowds on Portobello beach. Were her tears induced because Nicola Sturgeon empathised with the families taking full advantage of the sunshine for their daily exercise in an open space enabling social distancing?

R McMurtrie, Currie.

THERE is a saying that if you put 10 Economists in a room you'll get 11 opinions. It seems as though the scientists are now following the same philosophy with Covid -19.

Stewart Little, Bridge of Weir.

WHY is it the same people complaining we went into lockdown too late all for the sake of protecting the economy are now the same ones demanding we leave lockdown too early all for the sake of the economy?

Just wondered.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone.

Read more: Letters: Lockdown exit plan is riddled with confusion