SOCIAL distancing and minimising interpersonal contact are measures being adopted to reduce the rate of cross infection in the Covid-19 epidemic in some countries.

The junior health minister, Nadine Dorries, who has sadly been infected, is a case in point ("Freeman and Sunak make plans to combat virus crisis", The Herald, March 11). She had been in meetings, in close proximity with others and the resulting follow up is that a great number of people will be contacted to see if they have been cross-infected in Parliament, in the Department of Health, and beyond, even in No 10, as Ms Dorries undertook meetings with the Prime Minister.

Multiply that scenario, where many more people are at present mixing in larger groups in confined spaces, such as in public transport, in gatherings at large events or en route to such events, then infection rates will spike.

Isolation and minimising contact as measures have been around for centuries, yet we see here a reluctance to activate such measures.

In Germany Berlin has closed all concert halls, theatres and opera houses, for example, and some German Länder have banned gatherings of 1,000 or more, no doubt as many will use public transport to attend these events. It is not exactly medical "science" to be actioning such measures, it is long-standing good preventative practice.

An expert in infectious diseases at Oxford University, Dr Peter Drobac, stated it is time to consider seriously some of the social distancing adopted by other countries, including closing schools. It works if it is done pre-emptively, he added.

While the authorities ponder whether to remain with "contain" the outbreak or move to "delay" if contain has failed – which is hard to differentiate as the two phases are imprecise by definition and outcome – then they must surely take the more widespread pre-emptive measures of wider social distancing now to avoid close contact in confined spaces where hundreds of people come together or are en route to large events in public transport, for example.

Or are the authorities here practising the British Brexiter spirit of splendid isolationist thinking that shuns current continental practice?

John Edgar, Kilmaurs.

AS a semi-retired medic, I note that the advice given by the Chief Medical Officers and their scientific support groups in Westminster and the devolved legislatures is that elderly people, especially with health problems that may be contributing to their frailty. should take care to isolate themselves.

Yet at the same time, we are told that they are hoping to mobilise an army of retired doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers such as radiographers, physiotherapists, pharmacists, admin staff porters and cleaners, who will step into the front line to fill the gaps left by serving NHS staff who fall ill, or who have to look after children if schools shut down.

I wonder if the real aim is to kill us off, and ease the pressure on the NHS pension fund?

Christopher W Ide, Waterfoot.

NATIONAL Lottery tickets are sold from supermarkets and other retail outlets across the UK. This accounts for a significant element of footfall in these premises and can in no way be regarded as a vital service to the public. Suspension of the National Lottery for the duration of the current coronavirus outbreak would appear to be a measure which would yield considerable health risk reduction at minimal cost and inconvenience to the public.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.