SCOTT Wright's article on calls for mass testing ("Case for mass testing builds as restrictions get ever tighter", The Herald, October 16) is a welcome call to action. We have gone well past the efficacy of periodic lockdowns in dealing with this virus.

As Edinburgh academics advised in a BBC Disclosure show back in May, the key to control is "shoe leather epidemiology", systematically checking a given population for infection.

Can I make a further suggestion as to a useful starting point? As I've noted before on your Letters Pages, asymptomatic younger people should be the first group targeted and since young people enjoy socialising, why not use the shuttered pubs as de facto test centres? A negative test wins you an ID card (with time-limited currency of course), to be shown when accessing public enclosed spaces – including pubs. As I wrote here before, certainly we need to test, test, test but we also need to immediately target, target, target.

Alistair Richardson, Stirling.

I’M disappointed by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. I had him down as “a pretty straight sort of guy”, to use the phrase Tony Blair used to describe himself after allegations of dodgy donations from Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone. Sir Keir has resorted to playing politics over Covid, and that is reckless, cheap and foolish.

Sir Keir has broken the consensus over the way to tackle Covid. He wants a full national lockdown to try to interrupt the progress of the virus, rather than the regional approach favoured by Boris Johnson and by the other governments of the UK (" Labour leader Starmer in direct plea to PM for circuit-breaker to stem virus", The Herald, October 15). But in Orkney, the infection rate last week was four per 100,000; in Glasgow it was 283. It makes no sense at this stage to inflict all the damage of a lockdown on Orkney. The important thing is to curtail travel between areas with high rates and those with low, which I assume is why Nicola Sturgeon is advising against travel to Blackpool and the Welsh Government is tlosing its borders to incomers from virus hotspots in England.

Helen McArdle got it right ("Asia-Pacific showed us how to manage Covid – we failed", The Herald, October 15). The countries of Asia-Pacific took the virus seriously and have got it under control; much of the rest of the world, ourselves included, didn’t and haven’t. We should have closed our borders early on, as New Zealand did and as the Scottish Government was keen to do. China has had a small cluster of Covid cases in Qingdao and says it will test all nine million inhabitants over the space of a week; we still haven’t built an effective test and trace system.

The other thing that has helped some of the countries of the East is their culture, which prioritises the community over the individual. Japan, a densely populated country with almost twice the population of the UK, has had 1,650 Covid deaths, a fraction of the UK’s 43,000. It’s a broad stereotype, but Japanese people do respect others around them. Here, we had the likes of Margaret Ferrier, Dominic Cummings and, incredibly, Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood, blithely ignoring rules that were designed to keep us all safe. Sadly, many thousands more still ignore the rules, so it’s little wonder we are where we are.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.

IT is increasingly apparent that the Government urgently requires a fundamental reassessment of its Covid strategy. Public support is evaporating, replaced by confusion, anger and frustration. The eternal lockdown is feared as much as the virus, the promise of a vaccine coming to the rescue in the New Year is unconvincing.

Waiting for a vaccine is likely to be just as frustrating as waiting for Godot. There is still no vaccine for SARS despite years of research. Each lockdown cycle is less effective in suppressing the virus than those that precede it, the public are fed up and sceptical of the medieval and ineffective rituals that have become a feature of everyday life. We now have, masks, sanitiser, track and trace, Covid marshals, Covid vigilantes, curfews, house arrest, egregious fines and prohibition. We just need restoration of the Spanish Inquisition to ensure rigid enforcement.

The most disturbing aspect of the new lockdown is the sight of the First Minister ordering the bankruptcy of scores of hospitality businesses on the flimsiest of evidence without due process or compensation. These businesses represent a lifetime of endeavour from the owners, representing the totally of their wealth and future pension, extinguished in an instant. Hospitality venues are much more likely to follow the rules given the ease of verification; with the public now confined to their homes for entertainment enforcement of the Byzantine rules is nigh on impossible especially as winter darkness beckons.

Lockdowns are creating more poverty, through enforced unemployment and reductions in wages. Poverty feeds the Covid virus as well as all the other diseases that thrive in such circumstances. The WHO has recently made similar observations. We also have the inequalities and social divisions across the UK elucidated and amplified, the most severe lockdowns are reserved for the poorest and most deprived regions which inevitably can only make them poorer and more deprived, nation is turned against nation as one seeks to ban the travel of residents from the others.

A new strategy is urgently required that creates an enduring equilibrium, acknowledging the reality that the Covid virus could be with us for years but enabling the economy to recover its losses and grow once again. Businesses need stability to invest, lockdowns are corrosive of confidence and must be avoided. The young deserve an effective education system and a realistic expectation of a job and career at the end of it.

Yes, every Covid death represents a tragedy but we should also not forget that more than 1,600 deaths a day occur in normal times across the UK. Many of these non Covid-deaths are now increasing alarmingly from a combination of fear, neglect and the diversion of NHS resources. The lockdown medicine is worse than the Covid disease itself.

Churchill said of America that they will always take the right course of action once they have exhausted all the alternatives, well perhaps that observation can be applied to the UK whilst the political leadership remains paralysed working through the alternatives.

Raymond Hall, Killearn.

DAVID McMillan (Letters, October 14) captures what seems illogical about Covid transmission, but is nevertheless fact. He asks: “If only one-fifth of Covid cases come in some tangential way from hospitality, where are the other four-fifths coming from?”

Extensive testing and contact tracing in Hong Kong showed that “19 per cent of [infected] cases were responsible for 80% of transmission, while 69% of cases did not infect another person”. This is not an isolated study. Other studies worldwide “have suggested that as few as 10-20% of infected people may be responsible for as much as 80-90% of transmission”. That is pretty much the four-fifths that David McMillan is looking for.

Thomas GF Gray, Lenzie.

IT is interesting to note that the UK’s "strategy" for limiting the detrimental effects of the Covid pandemic now seems to rest on trusting the common sense of the Great British Public to do the right thing.

At the same time we have been given a most graphic illustration of that precious national attribute in action. It appears that a third of the crew of HMS Vigilant, one of the country’s Trident nuclear submarines, is now suffering from the effects of the virus.

The vessel’s crew were apparently advised (indeed ordered) against heading into the bars and nightclubs of Florida, one of the coronavirus hotspots in the United States, and yet a significant number decided to to risk it.

The Royal Navy presumably now has a nuclear submarine stuck on the other side of the Atlantic and the rest of us have had a demonstration of just how British common sense can effectively tackle the pandemic (in the absence of a real strategy which is informed by scientific advice).

Ian Graham, Erskine.

ANYONE who actually thinks about it can see that the risk of contracting Covid-19 is rather small if one practises prudent risk management against it, as we have always done with other respiratory viruses like influenza, which can be deadly for the unfortunate few – and we live with an accepted yearly flu death toll.

The apparent reason for many people "cowering in fear" before Covid is their blind acceptance of what amounts to Government-media propaganda designed to promote the apocalypse.

Sensational stories – even if fiction – are the media’s bread-and-butter; however, we should expect better from politicians; expect them not to swallow scary stories from blinkered so-called advisors; indeed, call these advisors to account to provide empirical evidence (not GIGO – garbage in, garbage out – projections) supporting their advice.

Unfortunately for the UK, this does not seem to be happening; rather, gullible politicians continue to tell us "based on the science" that we’re all going to die unless we meekly follow their ever-more draconian diktats.

But here’s what seems to me to be an inconvenient fact countering the apocalyptic message: the Covid infection rate anywhere in the UK has, even at its highest, in all the daily reports that I have read, barely approached one per cent of any referred-to population.

Yes, even within a regime of prudent risk management, Covid-19 can be serious and even fatal for the unfortunate few who may still catch it; but let’s get things in perspective, something which UK Government(s) are certainly not doing.

Don’t crowd, wear a mask where you can’t social distance, and wash your hands; apart from that, everybody get on with your lives.

Philip Adams, Crosslee.

IT seems to me that supermarkets have done OK out of the pandemic, especially when it comes to alcohol sales, whereas the hospitality industry has struggled

I know that pubs can act as off-licences, but they cannot compete with the supermarket prices.

In the present situation where pubs cannot open, could the supermarkets be prevented from selling alcohol (or maybe just beer) either by law or voluntarily?

This would allow pubs to offer a competitive carry-out service, and maybe stop some of them from closing

Maybe it is time for the supermarkets to bear some of the burden.

Stuart Glavin, Moodiesburn.