Former Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley MSP and health secretary Jeane Freeman gave evidence to the Covid Inquiry today (Wednesday, June 28).

And the Ayr-born former Minister began by expressing her sincere condolences to everyone affected by the pandemic.

She also thanked the health and social care staff across Scotland for their efforts during the crisis.

This first part of the inquiry is examining whether all parts of the UK were prepared to cope with an emergency such as the Covid pandemic.

Ms Freeman, who resigned as health minister and stood down as an SNP MSP last year, gave her evidence to the London inquiry remotely - but her testimony was plagued by technical problems.

Her video link repeatedly froze and at other times the sound quality was extremely poor. The inquiry had to be temporarily halted while technicians worked to solve the problems.

With a smile, presiding judge Baroness Hallett asked a Scottish KC if this connection problem was common to Glasgow?.

When matters resumed, Ms Freeman gave evidence on Exercise Iris, which was a table-top exercise held in March 2018 to assess NHS Scotland’s response to a suspected outbreak of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome .

The former health secretary accepted the lessons from this exercise were not completely learned and implemented before the pandemic two years later.

Counsel to the Inquiry Kate Blackwell KC presented documents detailing several concerns identified during Exercise Iris, including "unease among frontline staff at the lack of clarity on PPE availability, training and testing".

Ms Freeman was asked about a summary of 14 required actions arising from the exercise, and agreed that some of them were still outstanding at the time that Covid-19 hit.

Austerity had a direct impact on the Scottish government budget, she said, but the health budget in Scotland had increased year on year.

She also told the inquiiry that there was sufficient PPE at the start of the pandemic.

Although it came close, PPE did not run out in Scotland, Ms Freeman insisted.

Though she did concede there were areas where Scotland could have been better prepared.

She said the virus was unknown and new but there was an "architecture we could rest upon as Scotland came to terms with Covid-19".

She says the decision was taken that Nationan Services Scotland would sort PPE for all parts of health and social care.

This meant there had to be new orderering channels and distribution within hospitals had to change, highlighting the PPE phoneline that was put in place.

Ms Freeman revealed where issues were raised, the government acted in real time to resolve them.

She said a domestic supply chain of PPE was set up, so there was enough PPE - but there were issues of distributions.

Tomorrow, former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to give evidence to the inquiry.