HAVING watched John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister, on Politics Scotland on television at the weekend, I believe his comments and answers raise significant questions as to the logical basis for what settings the Scottish Government view as high risk for transmission of the virus.

He stated that “there was very little evidence of the virus spreading in schools” and suggested that the transmission was “within shopping, within hospitality” and he suspected “within household visiting”.

Further, he appeared to confirm in his answer that his assertions were from Public Health Scotland data from the contact tracing system.

On November 11 Public Health Scotland published data which gave the settings in which people were in the previous seven days before developing symptoms or a receiving a positive test.

This data is for that seven-day period for the week ending November 8, and would appear to support Mr Swinney’s claims: 2,563 cases reported “shopping” in the previous seven days and 958 “eating out”.

But the definition of shopping ranges from “local shop to a large supermarket or a shopping centre”, while the definition of eating out includes “Cafes, restaurants, bakeries etc.”

Surely it is to be entirely expected that in the seven days before developing symptoms or receiving a positive test, someone would come into such a setting. Mr Swinney’s implication that the virus is spreading because people are shopping till they drop surely is not accurate given the broad definition of shopping.

The very document where this data is presented warns us that “users of the data must exercise caution and cannot make inferences about the ranks of settings and events where cases visited”. The data is intended for contact tracing and not establishing the exact case of transmission.

However, if we are to look at this data, then surely it does present evidence that schools are playing a part. Nine hundred and thirty-three cases reported attending childcare, school or an educational institution to the week ending November 8. This is significantly more than the 557 cases who visited friends or relatives and a similar number to those eating out.

Isn’t it, however, just plain common sense that schools play a part? Take as an example a family with two children.

One attends a class of 20 in a primary school of 200 or 300 pupils, and the other a secondary school of 700 or 800 pupils and is in a class of 30.

One attends a weekly ballet class of 20 children made up of children from two or three schools, the other a weekly football training with another two or three schools attended by the young people.

Then factor in the gatherings at the school gates. Surely this is the “too much human interaction going on” which Mr Swinney claimed in his interview on Sunday is causing the virus to spread?

Stuart Douglas,



IAN Hamilton QC, at the advanced age of 95 , takes the time to declare his pride in our “civilisation’” as a result of our Government, at this time, putting him on a list of “aged vulnerable” people (letters, November 14).

He is entitled, of course, to so express his sentiments. However, I am not proud of certain allegations and circumstances which have emerged during the pandemic, with regard to our elderly, such as some older people being made to feel pressurised into signing Do Not Resuscitate Forms; many hospital patients, who had tested positive for the virus, being discharged into care homes in Scotland; and elderly people not being transferred from care homes to hospital for specialist treatment.

It was good to hear again from Mr Hamilton at North Connel and let us hope that he will be able to receive greetings from Buckingham Palace in a few years’ time.

Ian W Thomson,


COULD someone explain to me why it is okay for several hundred football fans to congregate to celebrate the admittedly unusual event of a Scottish football victory, but not for three elderly ladies to meet for lunch weekly and enjoy one glass of wine with their food?

Carol MacDonald, Troon.

A FORMER manager of Aberdeen FC, the late and well-loved Ebbe Skovdahl, once said after a game his team had lost: “the operation was a success but unfortunately the patient died”. Everyone knew exactly what he meant.

I was reminded of this on hearing that Scotland’s world-famous Gleneagles Hotel would be shutting down for two months owing to the pandemic.

The First Minister tends to micromanage the affairs of Scotland to the extent she appears to have lost sight of the perhaps permanent damage being done to the economy.

She should put the control freakery aside and give up the daily broadcasts and begin to think pragmatically and forget her obsession about one-upmanship and breaking up the UK, until at least the crisis is over. Put Scotland first, not the zealots of the SNP.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.