IT IS VERY disappointing that the early Christmas present nobody wanted has arrived: the Covid-19 variant, Omicron.

East Lothian’s efforts to keep others safe include huge numbers coming forward for vaccinations and booster jags. The First Minister gave clear warnings about Omicron; Jason Leitch and others clarified the basic arithmetic. If five per cent of 100 infected people become extremely sick, that is five individuals. If 20,000 people are infected and five per cent become dangerously unwell, that is 1,000 individuals. Within about a week, that can become 5,000 people at risk of requiring intensive care and possible death.

Pandemic details are on the Scottish Government website but Omicron is not yet fully understood. If action is delayed until all data are available, that might be too late to stop the “tsunami” of infections. By making this a ‘family-first’ build-up to the festive season, and reducing social contact, you can give your loved ones their best present by helping to protect them from this new, highly infectious Omicron wave.

All political parties at Holyrood are scrutinising policy, supporting the First Minister by backing Covid safety measures introduced in Scotland ahead of England.

Christine Jardine, MP for Edinburgh West, commented on UK national radio recently that visitors from England are struck by the high levels of compliance here with mask-wearing. When out and about in the constituency, I’ve observed in our towns and villages that mask-wearing, social distancing and people stepping off the pavement to let others pass safely is now second nature. There’s heartening evidence of mutual respect across East Lothian.

We already knew that pandemics didn’t respect borders, nor political allegiances, but those who voted for Boris Johnson’s leadership are now asking themselves whether the Prime Minister himself respects the people of the UK who elected him. Does he honour their sacrifices and suffering through his own behaviour? Leaked videos, photographs and evidence about the Government breaking the rules suggest the opposite. The people of Scotland haven’t elected a Tory government since the 1950s: that is cold comfort in the face of failing leadership in this winter crisis.