Parallels between pandemic planning in 2005 and 2020 have been disclosed in records released for the first time.
National Records of Scotland releases cabinet records 15 years after they were first made, meaning formerly private documents from the mid-2000s are now available to the public.
The then Scottish Executive, which was governed by a Labour-led coalition with the Lib Dems with Lord McConnell as first minister, was bracing itself for a flu pandemic which could kill up to 45,000 Scots as a “worst case” scenario.
It was believed the disease would mutate from an already-circulating strain of avian flu, making it harmful to humans.
The records show cabinet fears over the extensive spread of the flu, which papers say would “spread very quickly from the Far East to Europe through travellers”.
The coronavirus pandemic was initially spread by travellers from the Wuhan area of China, where it originated, into Europe.
In a cabinet discussion on October 5, 2005, ministers talked about the possibilities of a vaccine for any forthcoming pandemic disease, saying it would take “at least” six months for one to materialise.
However, the minutes of the meeting claim a tendering process was already in place to buy quantities of a vaccine manufactured elsewhere.
At numerous times this year – particularly in the last few months – Scottish ministers have been pushed to close schools to halt the spread of Covid-19.
During the same meeting of the cabinet, ministers said there could be “political pressure” applied to do the same, as was the case earlier that week after an E. coli outbreak at a school in Wales which infected a five-year-old boy.
A report by then justice minister Cathy Jamieson, who was chairing the Ministerial Group for Civil Contingencies, also said that a UK-wide media campaign, including TV advertisements and leafleting, would be needed to get across important public health messages.
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in Scotland, senior health officials were used to front TV and radio campaigns.
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