It’s time to stop letting COVID-19 rule our lives!

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Sabrina Almeida

Is the fear of contracting the coronavirus preventing you from leaving your home for non-essential trips? Anecdotal evidence suggests that many still avoid going out for a meal or to meet friends because they are worried about being infected.

After two years of being virtually locked up in our homes, continued isolation could have terrible consequences on our mental and physical health. So, is it time to stop letting the fear of the coronavirus dictate our lives?

The current pandemic scenario is confusing and offers no clear-cut answer. While local government (in many countries) is urging people to get on with their lives, the sixth wave of COVID-19 infections rages on in Ontario. Although the province is currently reporting around 2,000 daily cases (still a high number), wastewater testing done early April pointed to a possibility of 100,000 daily infections. Moreover, the science advisory table predicted a worst- case scenario in which hospitalizations could reach 4,000 in May! The data doesn’t present an encouraging picture, does it? After all, the gruesome scenes of the first wave and the number of loved ones lost to the virus are still fresh in our minds.

Additionally, each time the province loosens some public health restrictions, the media brandishes experts who either shake their heads in disapproval or present opposing points of view. The truth is that given the evolving nature of the virus, not even experts can be certain about outcomes. Omicron was an eye-opener.

It also doesn’t help that the provincial and federal governments are not in agreement on the lifting of COVID-19 health measures. The finger-pointing only confuses us further.

Adding to all the hesitancy, is the somewhat ominous prediction that everyone will get infected.

But what sounds like a doomsday prophecy, might actually offer a solution to our predicament, and ultimately free us of our fear of Covid!

The biggest difference between the first and sixth wave of the pandemic, and a life-saving one, is the COVID-19 vaccines. Any infection after vaccination is likely to be mild, as per clinical data.

So, if you’ve been inoculated with three shots and are not immunocompromised, the odds are likely to be in favour of you safely enjoying a meal at a restaurant or in-person interactions with relatives and friends. With certain precautions in place, of course! Like wearing a mask in crowded indoor spaces (and outdoor ones as well, I want to add) and practicing hand hygiene.

Although the probability of contracting the virus while wearing a mask and being vaccinated is lower than being totally unprotected, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen — we know that. But on the slim chance that you are infected, the vaccine is meant to protect you from serious illness, right?

Several friends and their families contracted COVID-19 in the Christmas holidays, more are being infected during this sixth wave. It is encouraging to hear that they all experienced mild cold and flu-like symptoms. Most recovered in a week, irrespective of their age. As public health experts suggest – vaccinations have probably been a huge factor in their quick recovery. 

Let’s be clear, I’m not looking forward to contracting the virus either or suggesting you abandon all caution.  I continue to mask-up in indoor settings. Even if I’m the only one… like at a restaurant last week. Being in that crowded space, for the first time since the pandemic, made me very uncomfortable initially. But this was a one-off situation in my experience. To be fair, eating and drinking does make it difficult to keep masks on in restaurants.

I am greatly encouraged by the fact that a majority of people have been wearing masks wherever I go—whether it is in grocery stores, Costco, or local places of worship. Most Ontarians are doing their part to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

I’m also thankful that we’re more cautious in Canada than south of the border. Friends who visited Florida and Michigan said few wore masks and that they were afraid of being targeted for doing so.

What I’m trying to say is that we must now take back control of our lives from Covid. Let’s turn the page on the pandemic while continuing to do whatever we can to keep one another safe. Social interaction is critical for our wellbeing as is our support for local businesses. Meet outdoors whenever possible, it’s less risky!

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