AS I reflect on the past year in lockdown ("Ribbons to remember loved ones lost to Covid", The Herald, March 23) I am reminded of a letter I wrote on April 14 last year comparing New Zealand’s prompt lockdown and our half-hearted, slow response.

Sadly, a year later, the sobering differences in approaches by two, admittedly different-sized, nations have vastly different outcomes. One has a population of five million and has had 26 deaths, the other 68 million and 128,000 deaths.

Simple arithmetic suggests that had we followed NZ, our death rate could still have been in four figures.

It took us nearly nine months to tighten our borders. The UK Government blew its chance when it was available.

That is only the start of the what-ifs. NZ was open more or less normally from June/July, we can barely leave our houses. My son who was working out there went to rugby, ate out, toured, and lived a normal life whilst we suffered.

Then there is the financial cost of not closing our borders. How many billions were spent on PPE, hospitals, aid, furlough and numerous other items as a consequence of the UK Government's inept handling of the early stages of the pandemic in not seeing/accepting the clear indicators from elsewhere as to what was going to happen?

As has been said on many occasions our Government seems to constantly have been acting, with fortunately the vaccine rollout the exception, too little too late.

I shudder to think how long the personal and fiscal costs incurred by this Government will hang round the necks of future generations.

Douglas Jardine, Bishopbriggs.


I AM dismayed to be told by my hairdresser that, as she treats people at home, she is not allowed to attend to her clients until April 26, while you can have your hair attended to from April 5 in a salon. People who are housebound or shielded and therefore unable to go to a salon are being discriminated against.

Surely it is safer to be attended to in your own home by your hairdresser, who wears full PPE and takes every precaution to avoid her or her clients getting Covid, than to go to a salon surrounded by other people? By the time she sees her clients it will have been five months since they have had their hair cut.

Mary Callan, Drymen.


I WELCOME the findings in the report of the independent adviser to Police Scotland that the police acted "proportionately"when Rangers supporters recently took to the streets to celebrate their club's league victory in breach of lockdown rules ("Ruling backs police on Rangers crowds", The Herald, March 24). The police succeeded in avoiding a difficult situation becoming much worse. Throughout the pandemic they have acted in Scotland with discretion and good judgment, taking appropriate enforcement action when necessary. They deserve our congratulations on a job well done and, indeed, our gratitude.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.


THERE is an old adage that says "follow the money".

For the wider pharmaceutical industry, the financial rewards from the AstraZeneca vaccine are much less than for any of the other vaccines. Is this the basic reason why so many groups are trying to undermine its efficacy?

With many millions vaccinated in the UK alone, this seems to me to be the only explanation for the presentation of so many apparently irrational objections.

Bruce Davies, Livingston.


YOU report that the Scottish Government’s attempts to close the attainment gap between disadvantaged youngsters and their better-off peers has not been a great success ("Fears for poor as education attainment gap persists", The Herald, March 23). But, how do we measure success? Apparently this is accomplished by measuring how many SCQF Level 5 and 6 passes are achieved.

Back in the 1950s, as a school child, I sat, in Primaries 6 and 7, an IQ test. I never learned what I achieved nor what happened to the papers that I and every other pupil of the same age across Scotland sat. I surmise however, that it did give someone at government level some indication as to what the mean IQ level of the country was for that year?

Is there therefore some merit in reintroducing the equivalent of a nationwide IQ test? The Government would then have some indication as to what level of attainment is achieved each year. For example, if the IQ level of the class of 2021 dropped below that of 2020 and the overall SCQF passes remained the same then it would be congratulations all round rather than seeking reasons as to why no improvement had been made.

Stewart Lightbody, Troon.


THE people who gathered in Bristol to protest against proposals to give the police more power to deal with protesters, have demonstrated clearly that the police do indeed need more powers to deal with protesters.

David Clark, Tarbolton.


WITH the installation of the new electric charging point on Yell ("Pioneer tidal-powered electric vehicle charge point is launched in Shetland", The Herald, March 23), I hope Shetland Tourist Board will take advantage of being the first area in Britain to fight global warming with a salt-on battery. (Sorry.)

Duncan Graham, Stirling.