I’m part of an exclusive group that gets smaller by the day.
This week it was announced that the UAE had passed one million Covid-19 infections since the start of the global outbreak in early 2020.
In what feels like a crazy statistic that I sometimes can't believe I'm actually a part of — since the start of the pandemic, I have yet to test positive for Covid-19.
I realise that by writing this, I may be tempting fate, but while I’m feeling grateful for never having caught the illness, I've admittedly lived in fear of doing so, too.
I am fully vaccinated, but living in Abu Dhabi has undoubtedly helped. The emirate has been strict in regards to its Covid rules around social distancing, face masks, limiting large gatherings and the use of Al Hosn app, which turns green for a set number of days after a negative PCR test result and allows entry into a variety of venues.
My first result on Al Hosn was a negative DPI (finger prick) test from August 9, 2020 and then I continued to receive negative PCR results up to my most recent one on Thursday, essentially a span of two years of little green dots filling up my app.
Of course, there is also the off-chance I may have had undetected Covid or been asymptomatic at a time when I haven't been tested, but my partner, who lives with me, has also never tested positive.
As we’re more than two years into the pandemic now, however, I am realising my fear of catching the virus has stopped me from doing things that I really love. That's the problem with trying to be so careful: it can hold you back.
Initially I had some hesitation over going back to the gym when they first reopened in Abu Dhabi and visiting hotels at one point felt stressful, although those worries have since faded. I still have a fear of travelling, however, something that's brought me the most happiness over the years and which I desperately miss.
During my eight years in Abu Dhabi, I’ve solo travelled to most of Europe as well as places such as Zanzibar and Chang Mai, but my last solo outing was to Prague in August 2019.
Since the pandemic began, I’ve either stayed in the UAE or gone home to the US to see my family. While it’s always been the safest option, it isn't the one that necessarily sparks the most joy.
Solo travel has helped me to create countless memories while allowing me to meet new people along the way. Waking up in a new city is a wonderful reprieve from normal, everyday life.
But the thought of catching Covid while alone in a foreign country scares me. And it's what's stopped me from just booking a flight to anywhere.
While I don't suggest anyone be any less cautious, as more places ease their Covid restrictions and case numbers continue to drop in the UAE, I've decided it's perhaps time for me to let that fear go. It's time for me to stop putting things off and focus on what the future could hold in a post-pandemic world.