SO much for the elimination strategy. Back in June, Nicola Sturgeon adapted her Covid rhetoric to echo Jacinda Ardern's in New Zealand. We can rid Scotland of coronavirus, she said, with track and trace and Scottish self-discipline. “Total elimination” could be only weeks away.

The First Minister's scientific adviser, Professor Devi Sridhar of Edinburgh University, said that Scotland was on the way to defeating the hydra-headed virus. Elimination could be a done deal, she suggested, had it not been for Scotland being inconveniently attached to a certain Conservative-led nation which shall be nameless.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon announces 'tough' new coronavirus restrictions in Scotland

The New Scientist agreed, announcing in a headline that: “Scotland would be Covid-free if it weren't for England”. Nicola Sturgeon ruled out closing the border but said quarantine measures might have to be imposed on cross-border travellers. Masked nationalists in hazmat suits hiked to Berwick to shout at vehicles with English number plates.

That all seems a long time ago. We're back at defcon 4 and the epidemic is supposedly spreading again like wildfire in Scotland. The R number is as high as England's. We're back the same 4-nation Covid boat, without any Caledonian lifeboat.

Yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon announced a list of lockdown-lite measures that are stiffer than in England. Work from home is here to stay. Don't expect to visit your friends and relatives this Christmas because household visits are now banned across Scotland. It's looking like a six-month sentence, not a short sharp shock. Though Scots with long memories will feel a sense of nostalgia at pubs and restaurants closing at 10 pm. One suspects that “lock in” may rapidly follow “lockdown” as was the case back in the day.

The objective is “suppression”. The two Gentlemen of Corona, Sir Patrick Vallance and professor Chris Whitty, had gone full shock and awe on Monday warning of 50,000 new Covid cases a day by mid-October. This was met with scepticism from scientists not on the UK government's advisory panel, but we have become inured to the sight of epidemiologists disagreeing.

It's hard to fault either Boris Johnson or Nicola Sturgeon for listening to their own advisers first. They aren't scientists themselves, just politicians in the firing line. They know that when things go right it's the scientists who'll be awarding themselves with promotions and prestigious chairs. When things go wrong it's a case of: “We only advise, the politicians take the decisions”.

As I pointed out at the start of this pandemic, governments are there to take the blame – it's what they do.

During the first wave, Nicola Sturgeon was widely praised for her leadership and vision. She certainly gave a better account of herself than Boris Johnson. She sounded like she knew what she was doing, understood her briefs and was at least broadly in line with public sentiment. She got it – we said. Things are going to be more difficult now. The hospitality and travel industries are in revolt. There is less public tolerance for lockdown. This is partly crisis fatigue, but also because of doubts about what is achieved by crashing the economy.

Back in March, it seemed like a simple matter of, as Boris Johnson put it, “flattening the sombrero” to protect the capacity of the NHS to cope with vast numbers of covid casualties. Nightingale and Jordan hospitals sprang up, never to be used because the Covid casualties never materialised. Thank God, we said. This was a sign of success, said Ms Sturgeon. And possibly it was, we will never know – though some scientists have pointed out that the curve was flattening before the lockdown was introduced.

We are more knowledgeable now about the health risks of lockdown: the “mortality of despair”, as it's been called, from unemployment, poverty, isolation, domestic violence. We know there is going to be a cancer and coronary upsurge. There is a convincing case that lockdown just delays the inevitable, in the absence of a comprehensive and functioning track, trace and test regime. We seem to have great difficulty putting the machinery for this in place, north and south of the border – a reflection, not just of the quality of our leaders, but of public health bodies.

As The Herald's coverage of the latest Aberdeen outbreak confirms, track and trace has lost its way there. The Herald has also revealed that testing has largely been abandoned as unreliable in Scotland's care homes. It seems such a simple matter: identifying who has the disease and then tracking their contacts. But the tests seem hit and miss and the foot-soldiers don't seem to be knocking on the right doors.

And so it's back to whack-a-mole plus: extending existing local lockdowns country-wide. What is different this time round is the political climate. Back in March anyone who questioned lockdown was portrayed as a foam-flecked right-wing bigot happy to kill people in the pursuit of profit. I'm not joking. Now, even Lady Hale, the 'spider lady', has questioned the “draconian” measures being put in place by the UK Government.

Left-wing columnists have noticed that civil liberties are being trampled underfoot by a Prime Minister they used to accuse of being too “laissez-faire”, about imposing restrictions on our freedoms. Neighbourhood snitches are being urged to grass us out for not following the rule of six. Boris Johnson is talking about putting the military on the streets to back up the police.

READ MORE: Good Morning Britain: Nicola Sturgeon quizzed on new restrictions, communication with Boris Johnson and more

Both the right and the left have tried hard to make a culture war out of coronavirus, but they keep being wrong-footed by events. Is Sweden still the pin up for herd immunity and letting people die? A lot fewer have died there, proportionately, than in the UK. Then again, mortality is ten times that of Sweden's Scandinavian neighbour, Norway.

Sweden actually introduced a range of social distancing measures rather similar to yesterday's lockdown-lite, as Professor Devi Sridhar has pointed out. Her enthusiasm for Scotland-only elimination has waned and she is now saying that we have to learn to live with coronavirus. Agreed. The message from here on is: deal with it.

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