NICOLA Sturgeon is one of the few political leaders to "secure public trust" over her handling of the Covid pandemic, according to an analysis comparing the response of countries in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

Scientists who analysed the approaches taken by Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea versus Germany, Norway, Spain, and the UK, said nations must "learn the lessons" of the crisis so far, as infection levels rebound and measures to contain the virus are tightened.

The researchers, writing today in the Lancet, said clear and consistent public health messaging was important.

They write: "With few exceptions, such as Germany, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, and South Korea, political leaders have struggled to secure public trust and thus support for continued lifestyle changes.

"More generally, countries with female leaders have done better at securing public confidence and adherence to new measures than have countries with male leaders.

"In England, controversy surrounding a trip made during lockdown by a close adviser to the Prime Minister has substantially undermined public confidence in the government and support for the measures that it was taking."

READ MORE: Why Scotland's new 'lockdown lite' might fail to deliver the same results 

The research, carried out by public health experts at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and the National University of Singapore, comes as a further 465 cases of coronavirus were recorded in Scotland.

The percentage positivity rate also climbed to 7.9 per cent - the highest since it began exceeding the World Health Organisation's 5% threshold on Saturday.

It comes as pubs and restaurants will be forced to close at 10pm from tonight under a new nationwide curfew aimed at curbing new infections, with bans on visiting other household indoors also in place.

Ms Sturgeon appealed to the public to "limit visits to and social interactions in pubs and restaurants as much as possible".

She said: "These measures are tough, I think we all know that, but they are necessary if we are to keep schools open, resume more non-Covid NHS services, keep care homes safe and protect jobs.

"And if we don't act now, the danger is the virus will continue to spread and even more severe or longer lasting restrictions will be required later."

The Lancet study said the pandemic has exposed a problem of health inequalities which had been ignored by many governments.

The authors write: "In the UK, as in some other countries, Covid-19 mortality has been disproportionately high among residents of care homes, Black, Asian, and minority ethnic groups, socio-economically deprived populations, and workers on low wages.

"These inequalities are likely to exist elsewhere, but in many countries, such as Germany, data are not collected.

"In Singapore, migrant workers living in overcrowded dormitories have constituted almost 95% of close to 58,000 confirmed cases."

READ MORE: Record numbers of children and teenagers are testing positive for Covid 

Differences in contact tracing were highlighted, with researchers comparing South Korea's "shoe-leather epidemiology" built around contact tracers with detailed local knowledge and access to "electronic health records, records of credit card transactions, mobile phone-based global positioning system data, and closed-circuit television to triangulate patient claims objectively and address limitations in memory recall in patient interviews" to the England's commercially outsourced system.

"At first, the system in England was based around a system of centralised contact tracers following up with individuals through telephone calls but with little success and, in many areas, local public-health teams have had to take on this role," they write.

Bluetooth-based mobile phone apps have been launched in Japan, Germany, Singapore, New Zealand, Norway, and Scotland, with the UK' Government's 'Test and Trace' app for England and Wales launched yesterday.

The Lancet paper said app-based tracing is estimated to stop transmission "if there is a 56% uptake rate in the population".

The Scotland and UK apps are "not yet compatible" according to a Scottish Government spokeswoman, but she said work is ongoing to find a technical solution.

She said: "The UKG Test and Trace app uses the same underlying technology as the Protect Scotland app. However, our two apps are not yet compatible.

“We are working with the developers of other contact tracing apps within the Common Travel Area on technical solutions to ensure people are notified of potential exposures if they travel across the border.

“People in Scotland should download the Protect Scotland app to help suppress COVID-19, as it is the only contact tracing app that works in Scotland.”

Border control measures have also been a key difference between Europe and Asian-Pacific countries, said the Lancet.

READ MORE: 'Silent spreader' warning as study shows 40% of infected healthcare workers had no symptoms

While Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Singapore closed their borders to most visitors with all arrivals subject to mandatory Covid-19 testing and 14-day quarantine at home or at designated facilities, European countries "have been slow to require routine testing of travellers".

Scotland has also fallen short of a target to check whether 20% of Scots required to quarantine after overseas travel were actually doing so, but Ms Sturgeon said extra resources were being deployed to achieve this by around October 5.

The First Minister was pressed on the issue of spot checks yesterday after figures from Public Health Scotland showed coronavirus contact tracers have so far tried - and failed - to contact 1,129 people coming into Scotland from countries on the quarantine list.

The Lancet study concluded that Asian countries' previous experiences of coronavirus pandemics meant they were faster to roll out robust surveillance - and more willing to take tough action to contain the virus.

They write: "Confirmed cases are mostly isolated at institutions in Asia rather than at home, such as in Europe. Wearing of face coverings to protect others has also been adopted to a much greater extent in Asia than in Europe.

"These differences should be regarded against the background of experiences with past pandemics and economic policies adopted in the years leading up to this current crisis.

"In Europe, more than a decade of austerity measures have substantially weakened health systems and social protection in many countries.

"By contrast, major epidemics, such as SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2015, drove many Asian countries to invest in building robust health-care and public-health infrastructure that would be well equipped to handle the next outbreak. "

The Asian public were also "better conditioned to cooperate with strict rules and invasive surveillance" than Europeans.

Co-author Professor Martin McKee, of the LSHTM, said: “As some countries begin to see a resurgence in cases and re-tighten restrictions, it is imperative that countries learn the lessons that we’ve laid out for the future.

"There are no simple solutions but great benefits from learning from the experiences of others.”