The Omicron variant is likely to start wrecking a big toll on all our lives. Already, face masks in indoor spaces are mandatory and more social restrictions may be introduced soon in an attempt to curb hospital admissions for now. It’s extremely important to remember that we are still in the midst of an epidemic for the Delta wave, with Omicron rapidly growing to the same size and scale; the future doesn’t look particularly rosy. And that is scary. No one wants to go back into the days of serious lockdown, when you couldn’t leave your house without potentially being arrested. Unless you were a key worker and allowed to leave your house for your job, then your own home began to feel claustrophobic. Somewhere that was supposed to be a safe harbour for you and your family became somewhere you wanted to escape from. And, as I said, no one wants to return to that.
But we do have to accept that in order to protect as many people as possible from contracting the Omicron variant, and to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed by patients needing to be admitted to hospital, the reintroduction of social restrictions may be necessary.
The booster program is one way of helping to contain, as best we can, the spread of Omicron. It will help keep people out of hospital so that the NHS is not overrun with new hospitalisations to go along with the cases of Delta they are still having to deal with. But Johnson’s announcement that it would be open to anyone aged 18 and over from last Wednesday put huge pressure on the system that it simply wasn’t ready to shoulder. The NHS booking website crashed multiple times, queues stretched for miles, vaccination sites were forced to turn away people looking for a walk-in jab to ensure they covered the people who had made an appointment. The reaction and planning throughout this pandemic has been far, far too flat footed. The reason why the various lockdowns have had to be as long as they were was because the government were too slow to implement them in the first place. Social restrictions have been proven to limit the spread of COVID and thus reduce the number of hospitalisations at any one time.
And yet, rather than looking at what is best for the general health of the public, some MPs and others shout about their civil rights being infringed, and yes, they are. But they are also infringed on a daily basis by laws. It’s your civil or human right to ignore a red light or drive while drunk. But you are restricted in your right to ignore red lights or drive under the influence by laws prohibiting you from doing that for the sake of other people around you who may be hurt by your actions. Wearing a face mask, being vaccinated against COVID, avoiding social contact with others outside of your family. These are all restrictions that are aimed to protect you and everyone around you from the worst affects of COVID, in particular Omicron. We need to think outside of just ourselves right now. If my wearing a face mask and getting my booster jab means that I am less likely to test positive for COVID, am less likely to suffer the worst symptoms and less likely to transmit it to people in my family, then I will gladly do all of those things and more.