In her latest Reporter column, deputy Scottish Labour leader Jackie Baillie reflects on the Covid-19 pandemic...

The Covid-19 pandemic was a period of profound concern for the health of ourselves, our families and our nation.

In the course of just a few weeks, our world was turned upside down.

Despite warnings about the possibility of a pandemic, it caught everyone by surprise.

Everyone was doing what they could to keep themselves and others safe and, as politicians, that duty extended to the health of the entire nation.

Scotland was woefully unprepared. As we registered our first cases of the virus, political leaders in Edinburgh and London were too slow to take protective measures to slow its spread.

Naturally, tensions in government were high and ministers were under remarkable pressure.

While allowances can be made for decisions taken in the heat of the moment, the lessons of the pandemic must be learned and those in power who made fatal mistakes must be held to account.

The unfortunate fact is that many decisions made by the UK and Scottish governments had a profound impact on the lives of millions of people.

On PPE (personal protective equipment), patients being discharged to care homes without testing and overall pandemic preparedness, the decisions made by politicians were often matters of life and death.

Ever since the pandemic, families affected have fought for answers and justice – and, last month, Scotland’s long-awaited Covid-19 inquiry finally opened.

Under Lord Brailsford, the inquiry will now begin to take evidence.

As it opened, the families of those in care homes during the pandemic sent a clear message – the eyes of Scotland are on it – and demanded that an official apology to those in care homes is made.

The decision to discharge untested and even Covid-positive patients into care homes fanned the flames of the virus and put the lives of thousands of Scotland’s most vulnerable people in danger.

Here in Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven, dozens of people died from Covid in care homes while families were shut out, unable to spend quality time with their loved ones, some in their final moments.

There is a litany of questions for the Scottish Government to answer – why the first outbreak in Scotland was kept hidden from the public, why it took so long to get workers PPE and why we were so woefully unprepared for the shock of the pandemic?

The consequences of these decisions will be felt for years to come and people deserve answers.

The ability to scrutinise our elected representatives and hold them to account is a cornerstone of our democracy and it is more important than ever right now.

Sunlight is the finest disinfectant. This is our chance to open the doors on this difficult chapter and let the light of the truth shine in.