By Fiona Grahame
The recent figures for Covid19 in Scotland – and across the world – are both depressing and alarming. All those weeks we spent in lockdown when we saw the virus almost gone from our communities were hard to take.
People who live on their own had it particularly hard as they had no physical human contact with others. Schools were closed and children were unable to play with their pals. We don’t ever want to have to go back to that.
Governments can put in all sorts of restrictions and give us stacks of advice on how to stay safe but it all comes down to us – to our individual actions – if we are ever to eliminate Covid.
I’ll share with you an example I witnessed yesterday. I will not name where this happened as I live in a small community and it is wrong to publish something which would identify anyone.
Yesterday I went to buy a coffee and a treat from a local cafe. This cafe has made huge efforts to provide a safe environment where people can still go and meet together. The staff and the food are excellent. There is hand sanitiser provided and tables are well spaced out. There is also the take away option if you don’t want to sit in.
When I went in there were two elderly men sitting at a table facing one another. I have seen them before – regular customers and doing everything right. This is an important part of keeping cafes open – a place where those who live on their own can meet with a friend from another household.
Then a man they knew decided to chat to them. He stood, with no mask on, and spoke for some length of time. I don’t know how long because he was still there when I was leaving. Now this would have been perfectly natural behaviour 10 months ago – to see people you know and stop for a chat in a cafe.
But now we have Covid and cases in Orkney are on the increase. By standing and talking over the two men sitting, not wearing a mask, and being there for some time, increased the risk of unintentionally passing on the virus to them – perhaps even to their families.
There was no intent to harm anyone. But this virus will take any chance it can get to spread and infect others.
Even the little things we do make a difference.
And so to Christmas.
No one can predict where we will be with this virus by December 25th but what we do know is that it will still be with us. The very last thing anyone wants to be giving relatives and friends during the festive season (or indeed at any other time) is a dreadful virus.
It is difficult if the person lives on their own. Many people every year spend Christmas by themselves and it can be very depressing. There’s no getting away from how low that can make people feel. If you are unable to visit someone this Christmas or have them round to your home then a lovely gift, a phone call, Facetime, Skype, whatever is a safer way to let them know you are thinking of them. A letter instead of just a Christmas card would mean a lot.
At Christmas time our health and care workers, our emergency services will all still be working. I still see about the community rainbows in windows reminding us of those who are in the frontline of this pandemic. What better way to celebrate Christmas than to remember those who are doing so much to keep us safe and to support us when we need it.