We have all experienced the long journey since the beginning of 2020, dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Some of our experiences are common and shared: wearing masks when we go out; living through lockdowns; finding alternative ways to communicate other than face to face. Some are more personal or only affect certain members of our community: home-schooling; living with a family member in a caring situation; relationship break-ups; living in isolation; bereavement. We have all longed for the time when our lives can return to their normal pattern.
We are now facing a point when we are being told that is likely to occur. The messages we are hearing from the Government is that a significant number of coronavirus restrictions will be lifted on July 19th. How are you feeling about that? Are you excited and eagerly anticipating the day when you foresee yourself burning your mask in triumph? Or are you apprehensive, remaining concerned about the potentially continuing risk of Covid 19 infection?
I have done some reading about what the thoughts are on this subject. This is some of what I have found.
- The confidence behind the drive to lift restrictions is based on the fact that the severity of disease now being caused by Covid 19 is dramatically reduced on what it was during the first and second waves. Luke Andrews states ‘Britain’s jab rollout has already made Covid less severe for millions of people, slashing the risk of death to fewer than one in 1,000 now compared to around one in 100 in the second wave of the pandemic.’ (see article below). Nick Triggle says in his article below ’ Back in January, about one in 10 infections could be expected to translate into a hospital admission 10 days later. Now that figure appears to be somewhere between one in 40 and one in 50.’
- Professor Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia is an infectious disease expert, and he feels assured that, over time, Covid 19 will cause nothing more severe than cold symptoms in those affected. This is because of the success of the vaccination programme, alongside people developing a level of their own immunity. In fact, some research is indicating that this is already occurring, with some experts saying that the information on symptoms should be updated beyond the original high temperature, cough, and loss of smell to include cold like symptoms of a runny nose and sneezing.
- There will be a third wave of infections. Even given the facts above, there will still be an increase in hospital admissions; this will be mainly amongst those for whom the vaccines are not so affective and those who are unvaccinated.
- Timing ‘opening up’ during the summer months, when the virus struggles to multiple as efficiently and when children are not in school, could have the capacity to reduce the third wave. Holding off into the autumn when the vaccination programme should be complete moves things towards the start of flu season. Some renowned experts are agreeing with the Government’s current timings, including Professors Chris Whitty and Neil Ferguson.
- Wearing masks will continue to help control the spread of infections. There are numerous studies which have shown their effectiveness in protecting both the wearer and those in close proximity to them. Social distancing can do the same. There are a lot of people who want to continue to employ such measures to reduce their risk of picking up infection. In fact, there could have been a general shift in how people view the risk of picking up opportunistic infections, like colds. People may generally be more keen on taking measures to avoid becoming unwell. Wearing masks while out and about may become generally socially acceptable as it has been for many years in some countries in Asia.
Whatever your feelings are about the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. It will be okay for you to keep wearing masks if you wish to. You can keep using sanitiser. You can choose not to go into a shop if you feel it is too crowded. You can pace your return to a new normal at a rate that feels okay for you.
‘5 things to remember if you’re feeling anxious about restrictions easing’ by Prudence Wade on the Independent via MSN
‘Why it’s time to think differently about Covid’ by Nick Triggle on bbc.co.uk
‘Covid will be more like the common cold than flu, say scientists’ by Luke Andrews on the Daily Mail via MSN
‘Do face masks work? Here is what scientific studies say’ on Sky News via MSN
‘Wearing a mask in a pandemic doesn’t mean you hate freedom – it’s about respect for others’ by Victoria Richards on the Independent via MSN
‘Why I will continue to wear a mask long after the pandemic ends’ by Rupert Hawksley on the Independent via MSN
‘Life Getting Back to Normal as Countries Ease COVID Restrictions’ by VOA News on YouTube