THE “tailored” new measures to combat Covid-19 completely ignore the situation in the Scottish islands, where the incidence of the virus is starkly less than the rest of the country.

Why should harsher restrictions be imposed here when the Northern Isles already qualify for Stage Four in the Scottish Government’s own Route Map? To quote, where “the virus remains suppressed to very low levels and is no longer considered a significant threat to public health, but society remains safety conscious.”

In Jersey, a Crown Dependency, a number of island-unique regulations have been introduced to lessen the chances of infected people coming into the community. They recognise that maritime frontiers that can be used to insulate and protect the inhabitants.

If made-to-measure restrictions can be introduced there, why not here? So much for effective devolved government.

James Miller, Kirkwall, Orkney.

LIKE Boris Johnson, Nicola Sturgeon had her hand forced by the latest epidemic statistics. Scotland like the rest of the UK is certainly in a tough place at the moment. Doing nothing was self-evidently not an option.

It has to be conceded that the new measures stop short of a full lockdown, but who is to say that a full lockdown won’t be necessary when winter comes?

It is encouraging that schools and universities are not be shut, as that would have been catastrophic for students and their future.

But there are going to be victims, such as people who work in the hospitality trade, and those city-centre businesses that are reliant upon office workers for their daily custom.

It is to be hoped that the new measures will be sufficient to bring down the R rate. Otherwise, as Ruth Davidson remarked in the context of people in care homes, it is going to be a “hard, dark winter”.

S. McIver, Glasgow.

SOME of us remember when pubs always closed at 10pm.

Iain Maclean, Bearsden.

WE can sit in pubs mingling, talking and drinking until 10pm. Then we must leave. So the virus isn’t active between 5pm and 10pm but suddenly leaps on us at 10.01pm! Got it, folks? It’s called stupidity!

Michael Cook, Poole, Dorset.

AS someone who has dealt with statistics all his life, I think I am a rational and fairly easy-going person. However, I have to admit to being totally shocked and alarmed at the press conference given on Monday by the Government’s chief medical and scientific advisers, Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance.

They again presented Covid-19 as a terrible disease that is going to create havoc within the UK unless drastic measures are taken.

Now, please let me explain. I am not advocating rash actions that unnecessarily put lives at risk and I fully admit that the disease can be very harmful, especially to the old and vulnerable, who very much need to be protected, but statistical evidence around the world paints a very different picture for healthy people than that presented by Messrs Whitty and Vallance (and again I know there are some tragic exceptions to this).

Interestingly, no questions were allowed at the conference and some of their important claims were not backed up with evidence, especially their most outlandish suggestion, which the media immediately highlighted, that cases could double each week and reach 50,000 a day by next month.

There is absolutely no evidence anywhere in the world to support this claim, which would effectively mean that daily (not total) cases would be about 75 cases per 100,000.

Even the worst affected countries like Brazil, India and Peru have not seen anything like that figure, even at the heart of the pandemic. Indeed, our worst daily case so far has only been about eight in 100,000 and the Spain and France experiences, which we are meant to be following on behind, have started to level off, having never exceeded 30 cases per 100,000.

I have no idea why such eminent people, on whose counsel the livelihoods, jobs and liberties of UK citizens depend, can make so rash and misleading a comment, other than to generate enough fear that the public will accept drastic restrictions to deal with the virus. I hope I am wrong, but it again underlines the need for clear communication and an open debate about what is the best policy for dealing and living with Covid.

Andy Scott, South Queensferry.

IT would be good to know the Covid-19 mortality figure as a proportion of the daily positive tests, so that we can judge whether or not the scientific advisers’ projected death figures are rational this time round, or scare-mongering. To my mind, death from the virus should be the only statistic which directs government decision-making. Illness can never be eradicated.

It may take time to overcome the nasty symptoms of Covid-19 but there are now enough hospital beds to cope with any influx, and with a good healthcare system and additional curative therapies, it is more likely than not that the sick can be nursed back to health and resume normal life.

Iris Clyde, Kirkwall.

ANY close observer of politics in Scotland would have banked on the BBC caving in and giving the First Minister back her daily blanket session of supposed coronavirus updating, something not seen in any other country in the free world. And cave in they duly did.

This once great institution is not at its best or most principled when dealing with highly orchestrated nationalist protests and knee-jerk petitions.

With the best will in the world, Ms Sturgeon is a campaigning politician first and foremost, with a one-issue agenda – she has said as much – and I do not believe she is capable of stringing two sentences together on any subject without making political points. Surely, some non-political health expert could give these daily sessions, if they are deemed necessary.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.

NOW that the First Minister’s daily briefing returns, can I support Isabel Lindsay’s request (letters, September 20) that questions are asked as to how the Government will resolve the backlog of elective surgery caused by the almost total shutdown of the NHS for six months, and probably longer?

When anecdotal evidence is of waiting times for hip and knee replacements now over three years in the NHS, and even three to four months privately, is silence from Ms Sturgeon a sign that she has abandoned the non-Covid NHS, hoping no-one notices? This is a disaster which will echo long after Covid has gone. Where are the plans to help the thousands suffering debilitating joint pain, with no hope of relief?

Gavin R Tait, East Kilbride.

KIM Sneppen, professor of biocomplexity at Copenhagen’s Niels Bohr Institute and an expert in the spread of the coronavirus, concludes that Sweden is beating the pandemic with herd immunity rather than lockdowns.

It relied on voluntary social distancing and kept schools and businesses open, with the result that its economy shrank by seven per cent during the pandemic compared to our catastrophic 20 per cent.

Sweden’s infection rate has remained low and stable at a time when other European countries are facing a strong resurgence. In Britain there are 70 cases per 100,000 people compared to just 25 for every 100,000 in Sweden. The infection rate in France is almost seven times higher than in Sweden and the virus is ten times more prevalent in Spain – both countries had strict lockdowns.

A recent study suggests an infection rate of 40 per cent could be sufficient to give herd immunity. In fact just 20 per cent immunity makes a big difference because those infected at the start of the epidemic were the most susceptible. It’s a pity Boris Johnson didn’t keep his nerve and follow the Swedes when Neil Ferguson unleashed his crazy statistics suggesting half a million deaths in the UK.

Dr John Cameron, St Andrews.

DAVID Clark says that if everyone followed the Covid rules then “the virus would be unable to spread from person to person” (letters, September 22). I respectfully suggest that he do some research using readily available scientific papers, and then he’ll see many contrary opinions, including the following.

An April 2020 paper lead-authored by P Bahl says, “In general recent studies show distances reached by potentially pathogen-laden droplets of a continuum of sizes to be far greater than 2m”.

A 2015 paper lead-authored by C Raina MacIntyre says “the rate of virus isolation in the no-mask control group in the first Chinese Randomised Controlled Trial was 3.1 per cent, which was not significantly different to the rates of virus isolation in the medical mask arms in any of the three trials”. Should we adopt the Swedish model for controlling Covid?

Geoff Moore, Alness.

IN “Covid 1” the UK was caught badly in terms of, for example, acting too late and PPE, ventilators, care-home strategy, testing, school exams, media sensationalism and even the panic-buying of toilet paper. The result was an ignominious third place in worldwide deaths per million, and unedifying exchanges and one-upmanship, especially between Edinburgh and London.

Much has been resolved and “Covid 2” and the new announcements give the various players, and the people of this country, the chance to redeem ourselves and turn in a performance on a par with Germany and Scandinavia.

If we do, we should celebrate another example of the UK starting disastrously, learning lessons and coming out on top. If we don’t, we can all hang our heads in various shades of shame.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.