Walking the yard in prison COVID

3 mins read

Christmas is going to feel more like a siege of the human spirit rather than a festive fun bath with family and friends all giving and living to the max.

Incredulously, there are still diehards who are convinced that COVID-19 is fake news fabricated by the authorities who pay journalists to disseminate misinformation so everyone can be kept in check.

Quite why the government would want to destroy the economy, make itself wholly unpopular and lock people away for Christmas makes no logical sense.

The same goes for vaccine deniers wrapped up conspiracy theories that suggest the government is going to use the population as guinea pigs to assess an unsafe vaccine.

There is a rush to roll out vaccines to stop a virus that we have no cure or immunity for.

Risks are always attached to pioneering medicine, but the vaccines will only be approved if safe (I wasn’t paid to say that, honest).

Big Pharma has vested interest in the vaccines being safe because if they didn’t work, companies would be out of pocket and discredited as a brand.

For sure, there is pressure to cut corners with countries desperate to find a way out of the pandemic, the stakes are too high to get it terribly wrong.

COVID-19 vaccines should be heralded as a minor miracle that offers us a passport back to normality while putting the brakes on the rising death toll across the globe.

For now, keeping safe has a hefty price tag.

Social interaction is limited. We are confined to either our workspace or home while going out for a beer, coffee or food has ended abruptly.

This Christmas holiday will be a sober, drab affair with household gatherings limited to 10 people, hospitality venues shut, shopping malls closed, finished off with a 9 pm curfew.

Discontent crackles in the air like a crisp winter morning.

Businesses – in Limassol and Paphos – are now enduring their third lockdown since March.

It has hard to see them surviving such a gruelling regime of zero income apart from government support.

In its eagerness to keep the economy going, the authorities were unsure of what interventions to take once cases started spiralling during the second wave.

It tried two-tier curfews, regional measures, local lockdowns. None had any effect on keeping a lid on cases.

Instead of dampening the pandemic, it raged across the land, propelling Cyprus to one of the worst countries in Europe for accumulated cases per 100,000 of population.

With a kaleidoscope of COVID restrictions on mask-wearing, social distancing, curfews, closing times and public gatherings the message has been lost in a swam pit of fatigue.

A sizable chunk of the public is either not listening or adhering to government advice.

Losing discipline

How many are limiting their interactions, self-isolating if they are a close contact of a confirmed case or keeping their distance?

We are losing our discipline at the very peak of a deadly second wave that threatens to wash us away to a deserted island called utter despair.

The government was slow to pull the trigger to stop the virus in its tracks, but short of another national lockdown, it did the next best thing.

It closed shopping malls, bars, cafes, restaurants, emptied churches, stopped recreational sports, group lessons in the hope cases would subside.

Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou told Cypriots to grit their teeth through the COVID pain for several more weeks until the COVID vaccine arrives to save our health and mental wellbeing.

A tough ask when people are losing their jobs, their livelihoods, their loved ones, and their state of mind.

Reworking a phrase from philosopher Jean-Jacque Rousseau (forgive me), Cypriots are born free, and everywhere they are in COVID chains.

People are unhappy about the new restrictions.

Although what options do we have when Cyprus is notching up multiple deaths daily while cases are comfortably in the 400 range.

In June, more than five seemed alarming.

The national health system is buckling.

Doctors and nurses are at breaking point, we owe it to these frontline heroes to be on our best behaviour in COVID prison, walking in the yard, not trying to escape.

Taking to the streets to protest over vaccines or pervasive controls will not going to improve the situation, neither will denying it exists.

COVID-19 is here, it’s taking lives and stolen our Christmas – it doesn’t get grimmer than that.

Time to be a little less selfish in the season for giving (sermon over).