I’m lucky that neither I nor any of my direct family or friends have caught Covid.
Of course I’m not on the NHS front line, nor am I doing any other kind of job that puts me at risk of catching the virus.
But part of me feels it’s not just luck that I’ve escaped this terrible disease, but because I’ve obeyed Government rules throughout.
I’ve adhered to social distancing, I’ve worn my mask and I’ve worked at home. I’ve kept myself safe, and in doing so have kept others safe too.
From Monday, we’ll be able to enjoy a few more freedoms as we reach the next milestone in the government’s roadmap.
I’m particularly looking forward to dining indoors with family and friends. Yesterday was my 51st birthday, but I’ve delayed the celebrations until this week so I can invite more people.
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I’m so glad to be getting back to some kind of “normal”.
Throughout the lockdowns, I’ve been one of those people shouting from the rooftops about giving people the opportunity to test themselves for Covid.
That way, if they test positive they could immediately isolate themselves from others.
So why is it that now the lateral flow tests are free, I haven’t ordered any and haven’t been bothered about testing myself?
I realise it’s complacency. In my mind, there’s now no need for regular personal testing because we have the vaccine, cases of Covid have plummeted and the death rate is vastly reduced.
But my ignorance about the benefits of testing was brought home to me when I met someone who had actually had Covid.
Four months on, she still can’t smell or taste anything.
She asked me if I was testing, and I immediately thought, “Here we go, Covid police”. And with an eye roll I said, “No”.
“Have you had Covid?” she asked. “ No, I’ve really kept myself safe.” Shocked, she said: “Saira, I’ve kept myself safe, but through no fault of my own, I was infected by someone who was asymptomatic. Thank god one of his friends, who wasn’t feeling well, told him to take a test, which was positive. He was then able to let others he’d been in contact with know so they could self-isolate and so stop it spreading further.”
She told me how having Covid was “bloody horrible”, something she wouldn’t wish on anyone.
It certainly made me realise how sheltered I’ve been from the reality of catching the virus.
Even though the vaccination programme has been outstanding, we don’t fully know how big a risk we are to others even after the jab.
And we must be especially cautious because of the new Indian variant.
I will be regularly testing myself, and I urge you all to please do the same. It’s not a big ask.
The thought of putting anyone at risk because I couldn’t be bothered to test fills me with dread. We can’t be complacent.
We must all continue to wash our hands, wear a mask, keep our distance and – most important of all – test.