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I recently had a look at the numbers of cases of Covid-19 here in Ireland. It’s been a while since I paid any attention of any statistics to be honest. I guess that since I had the second vaccine jab, I’ve more or less taken for granted that I am covered, protected, safe. That’s not true of course – I can still get the dreaded cough but at least, statistically, it won’t be as life threatening as it was last year.

As of this week, the total number of deaths in Ireland from the pandemic is 5,249. Over 86% of those who died had underlying conditions. Whichever way you look at it, the numbers are devastating. Imagine all those people dying in one day or losing their lives through some immediate natural disaster. Yet people, me included, beside the occasional check while reading the news, are ignoring those numbers nowadays. Looking around the world, the numbers are horrific, yet still we talk about getting back to normal and looking forward to eating indoors in a restaurant.

So are we so desensitised that such catastrophic death tolls are the new normal? I don’t think so. I think the average person on the street still hates to see people suffering from this awful pandemic. But at the same time, the vast majority of us are just mentally exhausted. We are still bombarded by the media with headline after headline on the rise of a new variant or how someone somewhere died an hour after receiving the vaccine. So are the media to blame for the numerous outcomes that society is trying to deal with? I don’t think so. People are people and some deal with this situation with an air of calm and reason while others deal in sensation of fear.

Nevertheless, we shouldn’t be complacent. We still need to observe the fact that despite the incredible roll out of the vaccine and the amazingly short period of time it took to get vaccines from a petri dish to a jab in the arm, it is not a miracle worker and things could still go haywire should we experience yet another variant. We are in a new kind of norm and the question is, should we abandon all those little procedures like alcohol rub, two metre queues and face masks?

While quite a substantial percentage of the population will want them all gone, I’m fairly comfortable keeping them for the considerable future. I don’t really have any issue with the sanitiser and the two metre gap is actually quiet comfortable for me – people can get too close sometimes in my opinion and as for the masks, as long as they are not the disposable ones, they work for me. Of course, the fear is that as in some US states, that there may be a backlash on those who wear masks, I generally believe that Western Europe is liberal enough to not tolerate such populist nonsense and will adopt a more Asian view on masks, especially given the increasing risks in air quality as a result of climate change.

So I’m going to wear a mask for a while yet. It’s my personal choice – a term which seems to be a very popular phrase for anti-vaxxers lately, so I’m taking a leaf from their book and adopting it for my safety and wellbeing.

It’s okay if you don’t wear a mask; I honestly don’t mind and I am the one taking the extra precaution anyway, but please don’t hit on those like me who wish to do so. Life is good and we’ve been the lucky ones who dodged a very nasty bullet from nature, so let’s get on with returning to normal at the pace we wish to do so.

Featured image by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.

Ken Sweeney
Committed to idea of supporting aspiring writers and journalists. Serial podcaster.

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