by Colin Campbell
ON Friday the number of people in Highland hospitals with covid was the highest figure it’s been since it all started two years ago, a total of 147 people in the wards.
That was SEVEN TIMES the number of just a few weeks ago.
Two years on, trying to make sense of the virus and its ramifications seems as difficult as ever.
The most important thing are the statistics, on the Scottish coronavirus website. I wonder how many people check it anymore. Many will never have looked at it all. Most of the people I’ve spoken to over the months haven’t. I’ve kept an eye on it out of curiosity more than anxiety, but not for the past week or two. But yesterday it was a jaw dropper.
In late January the number of covid patients in Highland hospitals was still around the 20 mark, and that continued in early February and towards mid February, little more than a month ago.
On February 17 the number rose to 36, and the following day for the first time it hit 40. In the days after that it rose and dipped.
Then March arrived. There’s an old saying relating to the weather in March: “It comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb (referring to fierce or mild, soft weather) or alternately it comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion.”
Whether this can be applied to covid statistics I don’t know.
But week by week: On March 1 there were 46 people with covid in Highland hospitals.
On March 8 the number had risen to 82.
On March 15 there were 96 people with covid in Highland hospitals.
And on March 22, three days ago, the number had risen to 145.
And as of yesterday there were 147 covid patients in Highland hospitals.
You can look at these figures any way you like. One way would be is that there are seven times the number of patients hospitalised now compared with just a few weeks ago.
And the number has soared as March has progressed.
As of yesterday there was no one in ICU, but on March 21 and 22 there were five people in intensive care. Apart from nine consecutive days in January there have been no other times this year, apart from the odd couple of days, when patients have been in ICU.
These are the stats. A hundred and forty seven with covid currently in Highland hospitals? That was startling to see, at the very least.
And now the reaction. And the question is – what reaction?
As far as I’ve seen these figures have not been reported on in detail in any of the local media. Raigmore Hospital has not gone to “Code Black”. After highly misleading reports months ago about the NHS in the Highlands being “overwhelmed” by covid (the problem was staff having to self isolate, not the very small number of patients) now that patient numbers really have soared and reached a record high, we hear very little about it.
Not that we want to hear negative reports of course. We’ll be very glad if hospitals can cope. Obviously the less “crisis” talk we hear the more reassured everyone will feel that the situation is under control.
Meanwhile, my clear and firm impression is that the large majority of people have virtually given up worrying much about covid, no matter the huge increase in hospitalisations. My own regular domain, the Inverness leisure centre, is back to how it was before it all began, very busy bordering on packed. Compared with how it was when it reopened in the middle of last year, when numbers were very, very thin on the ground, it seems very few people are now staying away because of covid.
It’s likely the pubs and clubs in the city centre on Friday night were heaving.
At the same time, mention now that a relative has covid and, among other relatives, it barely raises an eyebrow. At least that’s how it is with me. It’s barely even a talking point anymore.
Virtually every household I know has been affected in recent months, daughter, husband, grandchildren, brother, sister in law, nephews, nieces, extended families. About the only household unaffected is my own. And how long will that last? And I’m not actually worried about it either. I’m more worried I won’t be able to get a ticket for Rangers upcoming Europa League quarter final match, a very big occasion, when I’ll eagerly join 50,000 others crowding into Ibrox if I can, virus or no virus, without any hesitation.
If it is possible to make any sense of the soaring hospitalisation figures and the plunge in public concern over the virus, it must be something like this.
Virtually everyone now knows people, or multiple people, who have had it and reported the symptoms have been mild. That’s what I’ve heard from my lot, without exception. So anxiety is much lessened as a result.
At the same time the numbers contracting it are now so high that an unfortunate small percentage are going to suffer from it and have to spend a few days in hospital before getting the all-clear. But fortunately only a tiny fraction will need treatment in ICU.
And we still don’t and won’t know about any underlying illnesses those in hospital have or whether they’ve refused to have the vaccine.
So in a way it does perhaps make some sense, roughly, of a kind.
Scottish Government Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said yesterday he expected the hospitalisation rates to level off next week, speculation which in typical SNP style seemed to based solely on wishful thinking.
What does he know?
In fact, two years on, as these hospital figures skyrocket in the Highlands to new heights, what does anyone even now know with certainty about this wickedly sneaky, or snake like virus, and its endless twists and turns?