Letter: ‘What does it take to turn this around?’

Dear Orkney News

In ‘The Orkney News’ daily update of Covid cases, I read the following…… “In the first year of the pandemic on 31st of December 2020 the cumulative total of positive Covid cases recorded in Orkney was 39. Today, 31st December 2021 it is 1,342.” 

I was going to comment ……”And what might have caused this difference?”

At the end of each year I go back through my emails, deleting some and keeping some, and I saw the following, which I wrote to  ‘Covid19OutbreakManagement@gov.scot’ and to our MSP Liam McArthur last March, and thought that it’s worth reminding folk of a possibility of one of the reasons why Orkney, after doing so well for so long, went very much astray re. dealing with Covid.

“To whom it may concern

I write in response to a front page article in ‘The Orcadian’, telling of Councillor Stockan’s plans to ease Covid restrictions for Orkney as soon as possible – in particular, the suggestion of easing travel restrictions between Orkney and Mainland Scotland.

I first read of this in an article in ‘The Orkney News’  https://theorkneynews.scot/2021/03/24/should-covid-restrictions-be-eased-in-orkney/

As you can see, I added a comment. 

I feel so helpless about this. I was angry when I first read of Stockan’s plan.  I was, and still am, concerned that The Scottish Government will accept that he speaks for Orkney. A reasonable enough supposition as he is Leader of the Council.  But remember  – we didn’t vote him into that position.

I filled in the ‘Islands Resilience’ consultation, and sent it off.  I hope that a lot of other people did so too, and that a lot of those people also expressed a distrust of Stockan’s approach to opening up Orkney again too soon.

Then, I read the article in the Orcadian, and all the anger and helplessness came back again.

I wondered what can I do about it as well as filling in the consultation, and decided to send this email, direct.

I feel helpless, and tired of making the effort to try to get The Powers That Be to see sense, but  I will keep on pegging away with what I believe to be the right thing to do to try to help to keep Orkney safe.

Meanwhile, personally, I will continue to stay at home. My husband will go shopping once a week, wearing his mask and putting sanitizer on his hands when he gets back to the car.  No, we’re not paranoid – we just want to stay alive! 

And it’s not just about us, it’s about……. everyone. I’m thinking about everyone. And it’s not just about Orkney, it’s about …the world.

Orkney has done so well so far by being very careful, let’s not blow it now.

The ‘economy’ isn’t much use to a person when they are dead, or dealing with on-going health problems caused by Covid. 

Easing out of Covid restrictions should be guided by thought, reason, and sound judgement, not by avarice, panic or a need to be ‘popular’.

I hope that this heart-felt message receives some attention. It could be said – do I speak for Orkney? I don’t claim to, but I also don’t have the power or influence to cause harm here, while ill-judgement on the part of the  – unelected – Leader the Council, does.

Yours, in hope

Bernie Bell


Meanwhile, on December the 30th, Reuters reported that the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said people should avoid traveling on cruise ships regardless of their vaccination status, as daily COVID-19 cases in the country climb to record highs due to the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

And yesterday, we received an email from someone in Malta, telling us that about 10% of the population are now in quarantine.  Another island that got it wrong.

What does it take to turn this around?

Yours, Bernie Bell, Orkney

Categories: Letters

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3 replies »

  1. What does it take to turn this around? Mainly societal change, locally as well as globally. Society has hardened: selfishness is the new normal, be it for personal, corporate or political gain.
    Had societies been more patient, had they not listened to false prophets like Boris but to scientists, had they not drawn so-called information from headlines and social media… they would have realised that this pandemic can only be solved with global solidarity, patience and reasonable safe behaviour. Had most countries in the world reacted swiftly and hard when it was needed, the whole affair could have been over by now.

    What does it take to turn this around? I am sometimes wondering whether this ship has not already sailed. Yes, we might be ‘lucky’ and have this virus turn into a harmless form at some point in the future, but I guess the high infection rates could be counterproductive and promote the development of other nasty variants. I can’t see us vaccinating the whole population every 3 – 6 months and also there are many people on this planet who haven’t received even a single dose.

    I am not sure whether you speak for Orkney, but I am sure you speak for many. Also, I am certain that Stockan does not speak for Orkney. For some, perhaps, but he does not speak for me and many others. Orkney could have done much better… with a leadership with expertise, committed to transparency and at least a rudimentary grasp of public health requirements.

    • Today’s mantra is … “I want it – and I want it now. And what’s more I have a right to have it – all.”

      It’s taken decades of training to produce this attitude – and it’s come to fruition at exactly the wrong time for the good of humanity and the world.

      Many people are behaving as if Covid isn’t there – doing what they want …..because they want to. Which is a large part of why we’re in the mess we’re in.

      Thought-less selfishness. Like I said here….. https://theorkneynews.scot/2021/12/30/putting-the-pieces-together/ ……. there’s no vaccine for it.

      There are parallels with the attitude to wastefulness and the climate crisis – a lot of parallels. I think that ship might also have sailed.

      I get tired.

  2. Meanwhile – looking at what’s happening in England. Right next door to Scotland.

    It’s like when a person keeps their house in reasonable order – clearing out the gutters etc. But their next door – semi-detached – neighbour doesn’t, and the resulting damp and structural damage carries through into their house.

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