‘We need the facts to learn full lessons’

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THERE is no doubt that the legionnaires’ outbreak in the Capital made far more people sick than the 96 patients officially recognised as confirmed and suspected cases.

It is impossible to be certain about the numbers involved, but experts suggest that as many as 5000 may have breathed in the bug and up to 250 fallen ill as a result.

Most, if not all, of those who were sick with coughs and flu-like symptoms, but were not officially recorded as legionnella victims, will have made a full recovery by now.

So it is reasonable to ask, does it really matter whether or not they were actually infected by the legionnaires’ bug? Is that not all in the past now? And shouldn’t medics be free to get on with the more pressing business of treating those who are unwell?

But it is nevertheless important to get answers to such basic questions as how many people were actually infected during this outbreak.

Without knowing the facts, we cannot possibly hope to learn the full lessons from a tragic episode which has claimed two lives.

The NHS Lothian investigation into the true extent of the health problems caused by the bug in Edinburgh is an important step forward.

Its findings should mean we are better equipped to deal with any future outbreaks.

More important, however, is the ongoing probe by the Health and Safety Executive into the root cause.

We can only hope that it will make the crucial breakthrough which identifies the source, so that justice can be done and all possible measures taken to prevent any repeat.

Carnival atmosphere

The launch of the inaugural Edinburgh Festival Carnival is great news for the city. With a line-up of more than 20 international and local performers, the centre of the Capital will be lit up for an afternoon to welcome in the festival season. And all the acts can be seen for free.

Organisers hope that between 25,000 and 30,000 people will be there to watch the musicians, dancers and all manner of street entertainers playing short, three-minute sets along a route of 20 different stages.

The event is a spin-off from the long-running Evening News Festival Cavalcade, which was much loved by Capital residents.

With support and investment, the new Festival Carnival can in time be a worthy successor to that event.

The Capital needs to keep innovating to stay ahead. The Carnival is an example of what Edinburgh must do to maintain its status as the best festival city in the world.