DR TIM ALLISON: Lessons on respecting Covid learned close to home as we take stock on a pandemic that turned our lives upside down two years ago
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It is more than two years since the start of the Covid pandemic, and we may be thinking about how things are now compared with 2020.
I was south of the border a few days ago and there was little evidence of people taking Covid precautions. Few people wore face coverings, or kept much distance from each other.
It is certainly true that things have changed over the months, and we are in a different world from times of lockdown.
What is remarkable is that we have more Covid cases, not less. When we were confined to our homes in 2020, we would probably have been horrified had we known how many cases of Covid would be here in 2022.
Yet the world has changed because of vaccination, immunity from previous infection and the characteristics of the new variants.
We are able to behave differently from 2020, but Covid has certainly not gone away.
The ways that hospitals must work have changed during the pandemic.
In the early days of Covid there were fewer people admitted to hospital with Covid and many were very seriously ill. Now there are more effective treatments, more experience of treating people with Covid and fewer people have serious disease.
There are also far more people admitted with Covid now.
Some are admitted ill with Covid, but many people are admitted to hospital with other conditions and are then also found to have Covid.
It is important to prevent Covid spreading in hospitals, but this has to be done on many different wards rather than keeping people with Covid in a small area.
Hospitals do remain safe while caring for those who are most vulnerable.
Our own attitude to illness may have changed too during the pandemic. We may have become more reluctant to seek help with symptoms.
This can cause delays in treatment, and it is important that we don’t hide away but seek help and advice if we are concerned, just like before the pandemic.
In the same way we should take up opportunities for screening and improving our health when we are able over the coming months.
We must not forget about Covid, but we need to live with the virus remembering the potential harms, especially for the most vulnerable.
We have a new world, but that should not mean that we can ignore Covid, which is what I fear was happening around me in England.
Instead, we should respect the risks of Covid while looking after the rest of our lives.
Dr Tim Allison is NHS Highland director of public health and policy.