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DR TIM ALLISON: In exam season, let's not forget the lessons the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has taught us over this remarkably challenging period

By Dr Tim Allison

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Dr Tim Allison, NHS Highland Director of Public Health. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Dr Tim Allison, NHS Highland Director of Public Health. Picture: James Mackenzie.

We are coming up to the time for exams whether at school, college or university.

Some exams have returned after a gap of two years while others are being done differently this year compared with what happened at the height of the pandemic.

Students have worked hard to prepare for their exams and will try hard to remember all that they have learnt.

Students have learnt during the pandemic, but what have we learnt?

What lessons can we take away with us from Covid that will be useful for us even though we won’t be getting examined on them?

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The first lesson that we have learnt is that infectious diseases are still important and that they are neither trivial nor a thing of the past.

This may be a wake-up call to us to avoid a reliance on medication and modern technology to prevent another pandemic.

Another lesson we can learn is that people do help each other.

We should recognise the opportunities that have been taken for helping people across communities and especially those who are most vulnerable.

Professionals have worked tirelessly through the pandemic, but volunteers and community groups also offered huge practical help.

The generosity and willingness of people to help is a lesson that we ought to remember as times continue to be tough for reasons beyond Covid.

Thirdly, there is the way some relatively simple things can have a massive effect. Modern technology may not have prevented the pandemic, but its use in developing vaccines has been fundamental in controlling Covid.

Yet the technology does not work by itself, and people need to do what many generations have done before and attend for vaccination.

People in Highland have been enthusiastic in wanting to be vaccinated and we have had high uptake levels.

Sometimes the appointment and clinic arrangements have needed to be improved and that is a lesson for those of us managing the system.

We have also learnt more about parts of our communities that don’t often hit the headlines.

This includes care homes, care at home, people who are housebound and people who need to take extra care because they are more vulnerable to infection.

These have all been affected in significant ways by the pandemic.

No doubt we will have our own personal lessons to take from the pandemic and it is not yet over.

When the pandemic does finish, we may want to forget the bad things that have happened, but it is important that we remember other things
and the opportunities that have been shown for helping others and for kindness.

Students learning for exams are well advised not to forget their learning when they leave the exam hall, and we would do well to not to forget our lessons too.

Dr Tim Allison is NHS Highland’s director of public health and policy.

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