Barely had we gotten over the Covid-19 pandemic and here we are eyeballing the monkeypox virus suspiciously. Logically, these viruses spread fastest when carriers – that’s us, folks! – travel, which means the summer or festive holidays and it certainly puts a brake on how we plan our meeting with friends and loved ones in distant places.
As of now, it seems that the monkeypox virus is not life-threatening – and then scientists and doctors qualify that statement with the rider: “except for very vulnerable groups”. As if the lives of these people (usually the very old and very young) are not to be taken too seriously. It always begins with pockets of vulnerability and then, before you know it, there’s full-blown panic.
Now that we are hearing of more cases of C-19 even among the vaccinated and boostered, we need to address the serious question: did it really go away or were we fooling ourselves? We are at the other side of the Eid break and people are sheepishly apologising for not coming to meetings and parties because of Covid or calling you ahead of meetings to ask if we can do it online because a team member has “fallen ill”.
All these are understandable steps and very much a Bahrain reaction. In India, for example, most people are not self-isolating or reporting the virus anymore and they have doctors backing them, saying most people are vaccinated so even if you catch the virus, it would be a mild attack. Even in Bahrain, I know people who test positive with home kits and quietly take a week off with limited isolation without reporting it.
The operative words here are “limited isolation”: once they feel up to it, even if they have not tested negative yet, Bahrain C-19 patients pop into the cold store or the local drive-thru for a burger these days – a far cry from the strict isolation of the early months.
Excuse me? What about people who may catch the virus and have co-morbidities? We are at the tail-end of a pandemic and while we are clearly fed up with masking and taking precautions, there is a social responsibility we all must share.
I do believe we must shore up our defences. Get back to masking in closed public spaces, wash hands frequently and maintain distance. And if you or a loved one falls ill, get into isolation and keep your family circle safe.
The truth is Covid-19 is not as dangerous today (did you know that the UN estimates that over 12 million people died of Covid during the pandemic months?) but the research on long-term effects is still being processed. What does it cost us to continue the habits of 24 months ago? Have we forgotten so quickly the hand-wringing and the promises to change for the better?
Bahrain gave us all the best chance to beat the virus. Now let us build on that legacy and see off the last of the pandemic.