Notes from isolation: Covid-19 is not a thing of the past, even if we wish it were

There's still a need to be cautious, even if we are all suffering from pandemic fatigue

Covid-19 is not yet a thing of the past. AFP
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You know that pandemic thing … the one that upended our lives, brought the world to a halt and has had us all half-hidden behind surgical masks for the best part of 26 months? Well, guess what? It isn’t actually over.

I’ve had some time to reflect on this, as I am eight days into a 10-day stint of isolation, having contracted Covid-19 for the second time in three months.

I’ve been lucky – this time around I’ve had almost no symptoms and only found out because I was due to travel and thought it would be handy to have a negative PCR test result to show to airport officials. Just in case.

My positive result, angry red Al Hosn notification and cancelled trip were all entirely unexpected.

Like many people, I had become a bit lax. Having spent the best part of two years on the more cautious end of the how-to-deal-with-a-pandemic spectrum, I let my guard down.

I, too, succumbed to pandemic fatigue, and started attending large work events and exhibitions, regularly socialising with larger groups of people and sometimes forgetting to put my face mask on indoors.

And now, I’m quietly put out at the inconvenience of having to cancel my travel plans and stay at home on my own for 10 days.

There is certain paradox in the fact that I was supposed to be at a wellness retreat in Thailand, but instead am parked on the sofa grappling with an invisible virus.

I’ve tried to make this stint of isolation productive. I’ve cleaned out the store room, done reams of personal admin, reorganised and categorised all the apps on my phone and played about 3,000 rounds of fetch with the dogs.

But now, with the finish line almost in sight, I’ve reached peak levels of stir crazy.

Scroll through the gallery below to see Covid-19 memorials across the US:

I’m having to remind myself that I should be grateful, particularly as a smoker, that I am feeling fine. People are still dying every day, all around the world, from this virus.

And while in my mind and that of many others the pandemic is something to be thought of in the past tense, it is still very much part of our present.

I am lucky that my biggest worry is whether or not I will be able to reorganise my trip. On the day I tested positive, my neighbour flew back to the UK to attend her mother’s funeral.

Her mother was one of the 53,000-plus people around the world who died of the virus in May, according to figures from Johns Hopkins.

At the same time, my friend’s young daughter was rushed to hospital because she was feeling unwell and stayed there for two nights before it was discovered that she, too, had contracted Covid-19.

So no, it’s not quite over yet. There is still a need for some caution, even if we are all so desperate for things to get back to normal.

And with monkeypox looming menacingly over the horizon, we might be well-advised to remember that.

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Updated: May 27, 2022, 6:01 PM