SIR David King, previously the Government's Chief Scientific Advisor, was talking on breakfast television on Thursday and criticised just about all aspects of the manner in which UK governments have handled the Covid-19 pandemic. His views pretty much mirrored those of Gavin Tait, FRCSEd, in his letter to you of November 5, although he concentrated on the Scottish experience.

I agree with their criticisms and mean no disrespect when I say that hindsight, particularly in 2020, is a wonderful gift, but William Blake pointed out that foresight is better, especially when it comes to saving life or some pain. Exercise Cygnus was commissioned more than four years ago to examine what might happen in the event of an influenza epidemic in the UK. Although the full report has been suppressed by the present UK Government, the alarming findings that were leaked indicated that forward planning should have immediately ensued. That did not happen, as Sir David and Mr Tait point out.

We must look forward because it seems that the coronavirus, which has an unfortunate ability to mutate and reappear, will not go away and I wonder if any regard has been paid to the negative impact of the centralisation of acute medical services on coping with infectious diseases. The policy, in recent decades, is to establish ever-bigger regional hospitals embracing all specialisms including infectious diseases.

Back in the day there were TB/infectious disease hospitals in local areas. It seemed sensible, and it seems to me still sensible, to isolate infectious patients from those in general hospitals for other reasons. We know coronavirus will mutate and stick around – the Spanish flu, Sars, Mers, and the like should be sufficient warning. And we know that a vaccine, welcome as it will be, will not eradicate the problem.

Might it not be advisable to plan now to establish infectious disease units locally away from the general hospitals, staffed and equipped to cope with the annual seasonal flu problem and to be there in anticipation of future epidemics? Hopefully, in the probable event of future epidemics, their presence would enable the general hospitals to continue treating the many patients now suffering from ailments whose treatment has had to be postponed.

It would not be cheap but would be value for money in comparison to the horrendous debt now having to be dealt with as a result of our present predicament.

Jim Proctor, Paisley.

AS we come to the end of week five of the “two-week circuit breaker”, can anyone tell me what has become of the all-important R number? It was all we heard about during the first phase of the virus. Now, not a word. Could it be that it is not as bad as the current restrictions would have us believe?

Shaun Murphy, Kilbirnie.

OUR Government has put me on a list of aged vulnerable people. Ancient Greece would have been proud of such a list. At 95 I am proud of helping to build a civilisation that acts like this.

Ian Hamilton QC, North Connel, Argyll.


WHEN will people, especially the Scottish Tourism Alliance, learn that the private car is not the salvation, but the destroyer, of our high streets ("Waive parking charges in run-up to Christmas, business groups urge", The Herald, November 13)? Those of us who live, walk, cycle and shop in our towns do not want our streets clogged up by the congestion, noise and pollution caused by the private car, particularly when so many are driven aggressively. Study after study shows that it's people who use public transport or who walk or cycle who bring business to shops.

Furthermore, the cost of parking is not excessive when compared to the cost of a car, the cost of "renting" the public space to leave a car, or the cost of public transport. It's the high cost of our public transport and ever-declining bus services that need attention, not the provision of free parking places for private cars, with the exception of blue badge holders, of course.

Patricia Fort, Glasgow G1.


GENERAL Wade and Major Caulfield must be spinning in their respective resting places as their mitigation road, the Old Military Road, closes yet again at the threat of heavy rain (November 12).

What would seriously concern me is not going up, but descending in a heavily-laden articulated vehicle and no Armco barrier. Never mind the rain, wait until it freezes and snows.

Thomas Law Sandbank, Argyll.


R RUSSELL Smith's pithily constructed letter (November 13) makes me wonder whether "and", "but", "so" will become one word like "insofar". Like "like", a word nowadays interspersed in many conversations never envisaged by our teachers of English. I was like feeling tired on waking this morning.

David Miller, Milngavie.