by Colin Campbell
ONE evening recently I was visiting the home of young relatives, and our conversation began with the news that the Inverness primary school child in the room had been sent home along with her other classmates because one of her fellow pupils had caught the coronavirus.
Her mother had called into work and been advised to stay at home.
The mum had some of the personal test kits available and had used them, and both showed up as negative. But it was too early to be assured that neither of them had contracted the virus.
This having been said, we meandered on to other topics.
Then it occurred to me that I was sitting in the same room, albeit at a chair and sofa distance, with two people who possibly had the coronavirus.
What is there to say about this? I felt no shockwave of alarm that caused me to rush out the door in panic. After appraising the situation we just carried on chatting.
I believe I maintained the distance between us, more or less, but it was all very casual. After I left I didn’t give it a second thought.
How this measures up to the latest coronavirus advice guidelines, whatever they are, I have no idea.
Maybe this was a case of “dropping our guard”, which we are strongly advised not to do. But it must also to a considerable extent be a changing sign of the times. And I’m certain we were not alone in reacting in the way we did.
No one surely would visit a house where someone actually had the coronavirus. But when it’s ifs, buts, maybe’s, a child sent home from school and so on, that’s different. And it’s completely different from how it was six months or a year ago.
For a lengthy period last year if I went to the house in question I would stay outside as we talked at a distance, even although it was almost certain none of us had the virus. The no entry rule was quite strictly enforced, and undisputed.
I remember getting a text last November telling me that a young relative in Perth had tested positive. It came as a shock. Subsequent phone calls were tense, anxious and full of concern. In the event, as I wrote at the time, he felt off colour for a couple of days and nothing more, and was soon back at work.
On learning that another young relative in the south had caught the virus in April or May, our reaction was nothing like the same. The news wasn’t exactly greeted with a shrug, but the shock and alarm was completely absent.
And now we are where we are. Apart from the mandatory face masks and hand washing, how many people are taking no virus precautions? How many are still even thinking much about it, if at all?
Of course there are considerable difficulties in schools and that means parents still have to think about it. And some will say that infections are rising because people have become too relaxed about it.
But with the vast majority of people fully vaccinated the level of concern has diminished to a huge extent. Hospitalisations are only a fraction of what they once were. There will be no more lockdowns and the NHS will not be “overwhelmed”.
As of Sunday there were 28 people in Highland hospitals with the virus, out of a population of more than 200,000. There has been no one in intensive care for weeks.
If some healthy people are still living in mortal fear of the virus that’s unfortunate for them and let’s hope they get over it. But it seems most people have indeed learned to live with it.
What the future holds is obviously less than crystal clear. But as we go about our daily business with the return of normality, the virus red alert days for most people are very much in the past, with no expectation that they’ll return.