Since March 2020, we have entered a period of waiting, caused by the pandemic. Belatedly the UK entered the first of three lockdowns, which resulted in only essential shops and services staying open and everyone who could do so, was told to work from home. We formed alliances called “Bubbles” Apart from this contact, we were told to literally stay away from each other, as being the only way to “Stay Safe”
The Queen broadcast a rallying call to the Nation, reminding us of the bravery of the generation who fought in WW11, and assured us that “we will meet again” Sadly not everyone will, as the death toll from covid 19 has now exceeded 150,000.
The summer passed, marked by low key celebrations of VE Day. Neighbours practised social distancing by having afternoon tea in their front gardens, in lieu of street parties. We showed appreciation to the NHS by applauding the staff from our doorsteps on one evening a week. Apart from these displays of solidarity, the passing of the year was unmarked by the usual national events, such as the Glastonbury festival or the Wimbledon lawn tennis championship.
We waited like this to try to ensure that the hospitals were not overwhelmed with sick and dying people. We waited to visit distant relatives and elderly residents of care homes, many of whom didn’t understand why family members, no longer visited. We waited in a sort of limbo, clutching hand sanitiser and wearing face masks to go food shopping, if we were able to go out and not “shielding”. On no account must we touch the mask for fear of contamination and breathing in of viral particles!
Finally, there was a light at the end of the tunnel, when news reports started to come in, that vaccines were being developed. The vaccines will prevent the severity of the disease and lessen hospital admissions, freeing up the NHS to further treat non covid patients. Such admissions are largely comprised of elderly people, BAME people and people with underlying conditions.
One in three people may carry the virus asymptomatically, with no sign of illness, but can pass it on to others. Others, while not needing hospital admission may be ill at home and one in ten develop “long covid” with persistent symptoms.
We waited for the vaccines and by now half the UK population has had the first jab of either the Astra Zeneca or Pfizer vaccine. The older age groups are waiting for the second jab, to gain full protection. I may then feel confident to visit the Optician and have the boiler serviced, two of the necessary appointments and jobs waiting to be done.
We are waiting for everyone to be vaccinated in the hope that families will be able to meet up again properly, although social distancing and the wearing of masks is likely to continue in public places for some time. There is even talk of vaccine passports, documents to be shown before gaining entry to pubs and places of entertainment.
We are waiting to see if there is a further outbreak near Christmas and a further lockdown. We are waiting to see if further jabs will be needed then, to cope with new variants of covid 19. It is almost certain that in future annual jabs will be required to keep up immunity from the virus.
In the meantime, there is a large Notice displayed on the side of our local theatre, which advises us to “act as if you’ve got it and stay at home”. This only appeared recently and replaced an even more scary public warning, in the shape of a video showing people wearing oxygen masks in hospital, which I referred to as the Screen of Doom!
Despite this, we are waiting for the new normal, which we are hoping in time will become more and more like the old normal. Take comfort in sayings such as “All things come to those who wait.” and “This too shall pass.” Waiting …. Waiting….