Oh my, Omicron

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Most of us had never heard the word, ‘Omicron,’ the fifteenth letter of the Greek alphabet. After all, compared with letters like Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, popularly used by college fraternities, and so on and so forth, it was a rather obscure letter. Needless to say, with the latest Covid variant associated with Omicron, there is a safe bet that it will be a word that could very well soon be on everyone’s lips, much like was the word, ‘Delta.’ Seems, this Omicrom is reportedly quite virulent and dangerous. How dangerous, is still yet to be determined, but health officials around the world are quite concerned, particularly in Botswana, the United Kingdom (UK), Germany, Belgium, Italy and South Africa, where the variant first emerged.

Here in Antigua and Barbuda, our concern is mounting. After all, the United Kingdom is one of our major tourism source markets – our second largest tourism market actually, and the UK does considerable trade and travel with South Africa. It is not a stretch to think that we could face some peril. Our Prime Minister (PM), the Honourable Gaston Browne, and Minister of Tourism, Charles ‘Max’ Fernandez have said as much, as reported in yesterday’s DAILY OBSERVER. The thing is: We must remain vigilant. The protocols that kept us relatively safe while Delta raged, must be adhered to. We’re talking about frequent handwashing, good social distancing, mask-wearing, and refraining from touching our faces, and so on and so forth. Eating healthily, and getting a good night’s rest will also help. As will boosting our immune systems with good supplements and regular exercise. And of course, availing ourselves of the opportunity to get vaccinated. The vaccines have been proven to save lives.

Most of those who unfortunately succumbed to the coronavirus were unvaccinated, and that’s such a tragedy. The vaccines were available, and some chose to ignore the science and indulge in unwarranted and unsubstantiated vaccine conspiracy theories and other forms of second-guessing and hesitancy. The simple fact is that the vaccines are the best tool that we have to protect us from becoming seriously ill or even dying from the coronavirus. May we be guided accordingly.

Meanwhile, as we have said before in these very editorial pages, Covid is the ‘b’ word that rhymes with witch.  We cannot afford to play footsie with it. Consider how many countries have gone into more lockdowns on account of resurgent outbreaks, much of it caused by carelessness and an overly-rapid relaxation of the rules and regulations that kept them safe. Here’s what REUTERS had to say recently on that score: Europe has become the epicentre of the pandemic again, prompting some governments to consider re-imposing unpopular lockdowns in the run-up to Christmas, and stirring debate over whether vaccines alone are enough to tame Covid-19. Europe accounts for more than half of the average seven-day infections globally and about half of latest deaths, according to a Reuters tally, the highest levels since April last year when the virus was at its initial peak in Italy . . .” [Reuters, November 12, 2021] Hmmmm!

As we enter the Christmas season, as well as the beginnings of what is looking like a good cruise tourist season, we are exhaling some. The pent-up desire to be out and about, as well as to re-engage in our languishing businesses, is understandable. Our pocket books suffered tremendously, as did our sanity. Many can attest to being driven to the edge of despair, the very brink of madness, on account of the many restrictions. Suffice it to say, we are relieved at the return to some semblance of normalcy. But we must needs be cautious.

And speaking of caution, here’s a rather interesting morsel for us to chew on. According to a social media influencer, John Claude Escalante, “For this new strain to enter countries, it means that the vaccinated are bringing it in, since only they are allowed to travel.” Hmmmm! The vaccinated can still catch and carry the disease (breakthrough infections) and cause it to spread. Hence the need to continue protecting ourselves. And remember, infected people can transmit the virus, whether they have symptoms or not. It is the nature of this Covid beast!

Let us continue to rigorously observe all the Covid protocols. They, in conjunction with the vaccines, are our best chance against this Omicron demon spawn.

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