As the dust settles on 2020 and new hope springs with the vaccine vials, it is easy to forget the hard-learned lessons of the ‘Year of the Virus’.
That is clearly seen in Bahrain too, where people are shucking off the caution of Covid-19 protocol and numbers are inching upward despite the best efforts of the government.
Most of the infections are apparently contracted in family gatherings and at private parties in homes, where dangerous ‘pre-2020’ behaviour is tolerated. People hug each other at these parties, huddle across dining tables in cosy camaraderie and, if it is a birthday party, the cake is cut and the first slice actually shared between friends and loved ones with nary a care for the saliva and germs being transmitted. And then we are caught by ‘surprise’ about the rise in Covid-19 cases when we thought the worst was behind us.
When we went for our vaccine jabs, the medics repeatedly told us that it would take a fortnight after the second vaccination for the body to develop antibodies – a fact corroborated by the BeAware Bahrain app. Still, I know people who walk out of the health centre after their first vaccination itself and run around without masks or social distancing because they claim to be ‘safe’.
It is strange that we need legal procedures and the threat of penalties to make us take care of ourselves. You would think the risk of a terrible illness or even putting your loved ones in danger would make us follow the rules. But no – whether it is everyday rules like wearing seat belts in cars or masks in public places, it seems only a stiff fine or threat of imprisonment works.
Just like doctors emphasise lifestyle choices as a vital part of prevention and recovery of ailments, we have to adopt safe practices to ensure that the vaccination and treatment facilities work to maximum effect. With the end of a hard-fought battle against the virus in sight, we cannot renege on our personal efforts.
The authorities in Bahrain are doing so much to make the fight against the pandemic most effective. A friend whose daughter is a doctor in the UK recently told me that she felt her child was a soldier in a war zone because despite being a front-liner, there were no schedules announced yet for vaccinations for her team. Another UK friend’s 90-year-old mother was given a jab appointment at medical facilities either 30 or 60 miles away – both obviously impractical for such an old person.
Meanwhile in Bahrain, front-liners have been vaccinated, the elderly have mobile units rolling up to their doorstep with the service and community police and healthcare officers actually patrol popular leisure spots like the Block 338 on weekends to make sure restaurants do not break strict social distancing rules.
As citizens-residents we cannot drop the ball. Do remember that every time you break a Covid-19 protocol rule, you are endangering yourself, your loved ones and putting a chain of caregivers and their families at renewed risk.
The possibility of a brighter 2021 lies within grasp and in our hands – if only we will let common sense and Covid-19 protocol guide us.