IT is now clear that all the Scottish Government can offer in response to Covid-19 is the creation of a zombie-like state in which all normal societal activities are frozen in pursuit of an end that is uncertain and ill-defined.

When the Government releases data on the number of cases, with references to it being at its worst since April, the comparison is disingenuous as the number of Covid cases in the spring was severely under-counted, possibly by a factor of 10. In light of this, the uptick in cases is minuscule but also entirely predictable given the limited opening up of the economy and society in August.

There has been no evidence provided that the NHS is unable to cope, which was the rationale for the original lockdown. Therefore the decision to continue and intensify restrictions as a knee-jerk reaction to an illusory increase in Covid infections is ill-founded.

Indeed, the peremptory, last-minute manner in which restrictions are introduced means no-one can plan ahead, with calamitous civil, educational and financial consequences. The Government's past performance strongly suggests that many of the current severe controls will broadly remain in place for an unknown but assuredly extensive period in a misguided attempt to lower the numbers.

Six months after Scottish society went into lockdown, we know a lot more about this disease; we understand not only its virulence but crucially the fact that it is variably pathogenic. Individuals at most risk of morbidity and mortality are clearly identifiable. The current control measures are misdirected, harsh and disproportionate in their effects, particularly on the young. The Scottish Government is manifestly failing to provide solutions that will permit the maximum loosening of restrictions whilst protecting the known vulnerable groups. The current policies need a critical analysis and re-appraisal of their currently ill-defined and questionable objectives and efficacy.

I suggest I am not alone in finding very obvious failings in the current programme.

Chris Greenhalgh, Bearsden.

TRULY the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

The latest diktat from our First Minister is madness and one wonders if anyone knows what they are doing. Just to interrogate one of the latest instructions, pubs in Central Scotland can open but cannot sell alcohol...duh! I thought the idea was to reduce the infection rate when in fact all this latest bewildering nonsense will achieve is the opposite as most people will load up with drink, take it home and have friends in to socialise. thus spreading the virus as there is not the controlled environment in homes as there is in pubs.

I'm afraid that in the round this latest level of incompetence from our politicians will probably be the straw that breaks the camel's back and it will manifest itself by the public, in great numbers, saying enough is enough and ignoring what is obviously panic measures.

The virus is here to stay and is a risk of life like many other things until a vaccine brings it under control and in the meantime we should be allowed to get on with our lives, taking reasonable personal precautions.

Jim Martin, Bearsden.

SO Nicola Sturgeon stands up and kills the pub trade not because it stops the virus, but it’s great diversionary tactics when there is something toxic within her own party.

I have always believed the fundamental reason Scotland could not be independent aside from any economic argument, is we could never produce or afford the talent to populate a civil service and parliament. Covid has proven that beyond any doubt.

John Dunlop, Ayr.

I THOUGHT the purpose of the regulations was to prevent us from dying from Covid, not cirrhosis.

Stewart Rennie, Bearsden.

INTERESTING and probably necessary measures announced today, but I have a couple of questions. Why define areas by health board rather than councils? It may just be me, but council areas I think are more clearly understood. Secondly, how many calls from the hospitality industry will she get asking: if my restaurant stops serving alcohol can we stay open please? Fingers crossed these measures work.

Douglas Jardine, Bishopbriggs.

THE latest Covid guidance is not being given out in a plain and simple form. Finding the current guidance also requires a very specific word search to access it, which has caused me more than a few frustrating searches. The updated guidance should be given first, all of the reasoning and soul-searching, although important, clouds the issue of the new rules. Most important of all, everything comes out as guidance and not as "don't follow the rules or you will be penalised" .

George Dale, Beith.

IAIN Macwhirter ("The lockdown rollercoaster can surely only end in tears", The Herald, October 7) is right to criticise the Government's policy on Coronavirus. The key point to consider is that the pandemic is going to be with us as a problem for a long time, probably years. Measures which prevent us from engaging normally with our families and friends are tolerable only for a short period, and that period is now long over.

There is much emphasis on the economy for understandable reasons, but the bigger human problem is that people cannot be indefinitely restricted in their ability to fulfil the one thing needful in life, which is loving relationships. This is often expressed in terms of "mental health", but that is to underestimate its significance by placing it in some set of pseudo-scientific medical scales; it is rather about life-meanings and ultimate values, it is about what makes life worth living. It is simply an act of intolerably intrusive government oppression to deny people the right to engage normally with their families and friends for prolonged periods of time, no matter the context. In no other age, in no other society in history, not even the most tyrannical states have told people en masse that they may not share their lives with their families and friends for prolonged periods. It is my own view that the severity of the emergency does not remotely justify the prolonged continuation of such an extreme measure.

While there are obviously public issues to be considered, and many less intrusive measures can be continued, now that this problem is likely to be endemic for years, this must become a matter of individual choice. We need to be liberated to make choices ourselves about what balance of risk we want to take in this long-term perspective, taking account of our needs and values as human beings. I have come to the conclusion that the Government has no longer any right to dictate to me as I get older that I may not share my precious time with my family.

Stephen Smith, Glasgow G44.

DAVE Henderson (Letters, October 7) says it all for myself, and I should imagine, countless others, when he writes about how tired he is of the current Covid situation. What I fear in addition is that the populace will react fairly soon in regards to all that has been imposed on us with civil disobedience allied to inevitable mass unemployment and the consequences of our exiting Brexit. A dark winter of discontent is dawning for us all.

John Macnab, Falkirk.

I AGREE with most of the Covid letters published today (October 7). Our TV screens are filled almost hourly by the supposed number of new Covid cases, and the numbers are growing alarmingly. The gold standard method for testing for Covid is the PCR test (polymerase chain reaction). A function of the PCR test is to try to detect viral RNA in the human respiratory tract. However, there is documented uncertainty in its accuracy.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control, a multi-billion-dollar national public health institute in the US) published a paper on July 13 titled “Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel”. On page 37 there are bullet points on the limitations of PCR, and bullet points 9 (“Detection of viral RNA may not indicate the presence of infectious virus or that 2019-nCoV is the causative agent for clinical symptoms”) and 12 (“This test cannot rule out diseases caused by other bacterial or viral pathogens”) particularly draw attention.

Other medical academics have expressed concern. For example the British Medical Journal published a letter from a retired GP in June who said that the late Kary Mullis, inventor of the PCR test, “is reported to have said that it was for research purposes only and not for medical diagnosis”.

Are we being led up a giant wild goose chase?

Geoff Moore, Alness.

HELEN McArdle's investigation confirms what has been evident for some time, that the Government action in shutting down the NHS has fatally damaged it ("Cancelled: 100,000 Scots miss surgery in pandemic", The Herald, October 7). There seems to be no thought being given as to how the enormous backlog of elective operations will be cleared when, for the foreseeable future, surgical capacity may be halved. No doubt there are meetings about meetings but the crisis is so severe perhaps only a Royal Commission-type inquiry is will suffice, stripped of politics.

As a past clinical director in trauma and orthopaedics I know that waiting lists and times in the NHS have never been matched, illustrated by the tens of thousands of patients failed by Nicola Sturgeon’s “legal right to surgery in 12 weeks”.

Staff numbers are limited, and few surgeons can operate more than three to four half-day sessions a week, for 40 weeks a year, limited by contract. How can the backlog possibly be overcome?

The limited private sector is no answer as the same surgeons operate there in non-contracted time.

A radical restructuring of NHS surgical services, separating them from acute general hospitals and protected from Covid, is required. Surgeons and anaesthetists must be freed and supported to operate more often, with greater use of day surgery.

I fear the present Government will only replay the failed waiting list initiatives habit, paying huge some for limited effect, but making no effort for fundamental change.

The public must also play a part and recognise hallowed local facilities may have to go, and parochial and misguided defences of “aye been” hospitals abandoned.

Boris Johnson, whether one supports him or not, is correct in that we should take the opportunity of this existential crisis to completely revise how our services are provided. To do nothing would be a gross dereliction. Covid is transient but cancer, arthritis, cataracts, dementia and mental illness are all forever.

There are positive fundamental changes we must make in the NHS and cannot be delayed. The status quo ante has failed us and cannot stand.

Gavin R Tait FRCSEd, East Kilbride.

Read more: Letters: I’m so tired of this joyless Covid world