by Colin Campbell
INVERNESS city centre was back in full lockdown yesterday as the surge in virus cases continued.
‘Back to square one’, one newspaper headline blared in the biggest, boldest type.
I’m not an inveterate pessimist and I’m no raging optimist either. But surely this is an excessively negative portrayal of how things stand.
Last March when the first lockdown began shock and uncertainty were countered by hope and indeed expectations that it would all be over in a few months.
That didn’t take long to be crushed by coronavirus reality.
The lowest point of the entire experience was October and November, when we didnt know at the start of a uniquely bleak and cheerless winter whether an excrutiating situation could last for months or even years.
But now we know that things are going to change, and relatively soon.
The vaccine has already been administered to around 900,000 people. Last week I reported on a young Inverness care home worker I know who’ll get it on Thursday. For some strange reason I’m more excited about that than she is. When you can put a name and a face to a vaccine recipient, or a person who has caught the virus – as happened with me with a young relative a few weeks ago – it has more impact than reading about it in any number of newspaper reports.
No-one will be under illusions that it’s plain sailing to vaccinated wonderland free of this dreadful scourge in the weeks and months ahead. Those grappling with the huge task of getting it out to those in the higher risk categories and then everyone else will themselves a need a healthy dose of stoicism and resilience to cope with the complexities and frustrations they’ll undoubtedly face.
But what we do need is clear and precise information on how the vaccination programme is being carried out and very regular updates on the numbers involved. And on who comes next. And on available supplies, and on the timing of the arrival of more.
The NHS Highland website at the moment contains general information about the coronavirus that we already know.
It should from now on be updated with as much information as they can provide. It should become required reading on a weekly if not daily basis.
Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday that the aim is to vaccinate everyone over 50 by early May. That would mean we have a few, short months of this extreme situation remaining and while it will not be over by then it will be well on the way to getting there.
So on a cold, bright day Inverness centre yesterday was empty and the shops were firmly locked and bolted in an all-too familiar scenario.
But by any measure of progress the situation has changed dramatically from the dark days of last year. And we are definitely not back to square one.