THERE is something intrinsically sadistic and cruel in Johnson’s “Operation Last Gasp” comment. It is like he is deliberately provoking a reaction and giving the impression of taking pleasure in causing distress to others – it is like the attitude of the school playground bully. I wonder if he is measuring how much he can get away with.

I cannot believe that his advisers are so incompetent that they did not know what the response to such comment would be, the same to his announcement that he was going to reduce the red tape to be able to rush the cremations through in time for the coronavirus-caused deaths while implementing his “herd immunity” approach.

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Anything that this buffoon does and says makes me seriously wonder what nastiness he is planning to dump on us by capitalising on the “opportunities” that using the excuse of this virus are going to bring to a extreme right-wing Tory government facing the biggest economic, political, social and health crisis in modern history.

I fear the virus is going to be the least of our problems.

Maria Carnero

IT did appear briefly during Boris Johnson’s announcement on Monday afternoon that delay and dither were at last at an end and the UK Government was going to take some positive action to tackle the outbreak of Covid-19.

Superficially his speech was measured and reassuring, until it all fell apart near the end when he told us that the UK was now leading our friends and allies in G7, G20, the UN and the IMF in a global campaign to combat the virus, protect the population and maintain the world economy.

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Is Boris Johnson already moving on to his next big project ? He has got Brexit done, his “sing as you wash” advice will get Coronavirus done in the UK, and he now envisages his role as leader of the post-pandemic world.

John Jamieson
South Queensferry

A SHOWER of gifts is about to submerge Italy – 100,000 high-tech masks, 20,000 protective suits, 50,000 swabs to perform diagnostic tests for coronavirus. In addition, Italy will be able to buy and receive 1000 lung ventilators as soon as possible.

It is right for Italy to express gratitude to the Chinese government. However, all the publicity and propaganda generated by these gifts is disturbing. Beijing is attempting to mask the responsibilities it alone has had and still has regarding the coronavirus emergency. And this is not just regarding the sale of wild animals at the Wuhan market: we are talking about the silence of the authorities that lasted for more than a month before they raised the alarm.

We must speak above all of the systematic suffocation that leaders have implemented against doctors and journalists who already warned hospitals, friends and authorities about a pneumonia similar to SARS, but far more harmful, as early as last December. With great courage, as Xi Jinping is attempting to show himself as the great victor in the war against the virus, Wuhan’s doctors have spoken out and denounced the silence and oppression they were subjected to and the lies fabricated by the authorities.

Some of them, like Li Wenliang and many others, died of the same disease they first tried to alert the world to. Dr Ai Fen, from the Wuhan Central Hospital Emergency Centre, also courageously told a newspaper about her continuing attempts to push hospital, civic and provincial authorities to take action against the virus. But in vain.

It is likely that if the alert from these doctors had been heeded, the coronavirus epidemic would not have become a pandemic. Now these doctors and many intellectuals are demanding guarantees for free speech in China, and instead they are receiving threats and arrests.

I think that China’s gifts to Italy would be even more welcome if Beijing and Xi Jinping gave his people and the press freedom of speech. He would do his people

and the whole world a favour. And I also think that if our Italian politicians really want to be friends with China, they cannot hide this truth from Beijing.

B McKenna

WITH about 1300 confirmed cases and three deaths, Norway has taken a tough line with the coronavirus, tougher than the UK or Scotland. Here, all schools, universities, restaurants, bars and cafes are closed. All concerts are cancelled. No foreigners or non-residents may enter the country and all Norwegians doing so go automatically into 14-day quarantine.

Strikingly, some cities (Tromsø for example) and some municipalities are requiring that folk coming from other parts of Norway go into 14-day quarantine.

Can Scotland make separate provisions from the rest of UK to fight the coronavirus?

Mike Fergus
Sandakerveien, Norway

WITH self-isolation increasingly advised as a defence against the Covid-19 pandemic, it is likely that the letters columns in newspapers like The National will become a substitute for normal socialising. I hope The National will allow for this, and as required add an extra letters page. With the normal social practice of nattering and exchanging opinions in person discouraged, only the telephone and letters page provide an alternative, at least for the older generation. Those younger of course are well into social media and the many ways to communicate electronically are readily available. All such ways are ready-made for such situations as self-isolation.

Had Covid-19 occurred before the present abundance of electronic communication, we would have likely found it harder to cope with. But there again, there was an age before TV, before the wireless, before the telephone etc, and life went on. The printing press was invented long before any such gadgets, and thankfully is still going...

Ian Johnstone