As I write this piece the death toll for the UK from COVID-19 associated deaths stands at 40,542. This is made up of 2,415 people in Scotland, 36,192 in England, 537 in Northern Ireland and 1,398 in Wales. So as we can all imagine there are a lot of heartbroken families and friends suffering immense grief across the whole of the UK and our thoughts and prayers are with them.

I have received a lot of correspondence from people raising their concern about the level of deaths in care homes and I will support a full inquiry into what happened. The First Minister of Scotland has said there will be a full Public Enquiry into how governments have dealt with the pandemic. I do believe that we must before then understand what has happened, where mistakes have been made so that the same mistakes are not made again.

Many health experts warn that a second wave of this virus is likely to come later in the year and whilst mistakes have been made in tackling this unprecedented challenge, to make those same mistakes again would unforgivable. Hence, we must learn the lessons and do so quickly so that we are better prepared for any second wave. I am continuing to support ministers who are under immense pressure but I am also making clear we must learn the lessons and fast.

The last time I wrote this column I praised all those on the frontline but now for many there is a need for more than praise. For the care workers who are paid low wages and have poor terms and conditions they need action. When leader of Fife Council I revered the plans of the previous SNP/Liberal administration to run down and close the council care homes and brought forward costed plans to build council care villages and we now have three in Fife like the one in Lumphinnans.

The only reason we have a private sector directly delivering health and social care is that it is cheaper than the public sector and the only reason it is cheaper is because staff have much lower pay and poorer terms and conditions than fellow carers working in the public sector. We must have a national care service.

Finally, the joy of the last weeks has been seeing the power of people in communities helping others and I thank everyone who has got involved and supported those less able.