“Omicron is just like a common cold”, “Get infected and then get over with it”, “Omicron is not as fatal as delta”, “Get a booster shot and defeat the bloody virus”, “Ah, omicron! Anything with such a cute name cannot be that harmful”—these are a few common statements about Omicron which are hovering around in the air like nothing but a bad odour! There are many misconceptions about this deadly virus which need to be clarified to the ordinary people who are relentlessly violating the health precautions in every possible way!
It is seen, so far, that the fatality rate is not as alarming as in delta’s case. However, it should not be ignored or taken for granted that Omicron is caught on like wildfire. It is more liquid than the previous variants and thus spreads even faster than our imaginations. The recent cases also prove that Omicron can infect all sorts of people: the vaccinated, the boosted, and the unvaccinated. The executive director of the Havey Insititute for Global Health at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Dr. Robert Murphy has recently warned people by saying, “You would be crazy to try to get infected with this. It is like playing with dynamite”.
Nevertheless, ours is a developing country. We cannot afford another short or long lockdown. If it still happens unfortunately, many people will die of hunger and mental sickness. Therefore, we need to take it very seriously now. Although the fatality rate is low, we may shortly experience a widespread flooding of Omicron. We must remember that our children are still not vaccinated. If any of the vaccinated ones get exposed to the virus, he or she will turn into a walking bomb and can destroy the immunity of his or her own and the unvaccinated ones around him or her. Although it is not severe, we cannot ignore the damage factors entirely. One of my mother’s young colleagues is admitted to the ICU due to Omicron. She took both doses of vaccine and also a fit mother of two toddlers. Her health condition is worsening day by day.
Therefore, we must think of following the safety measures properly. Not all sectors can go online now. Nevertheless, educational sectors can still run their curricula virtually. Thanks to the insightful decision of the honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for two main reasons: one, for introducing e-learning in all levels since 2020 and two, for ensuring digitalization in every corner of the country. If teachers and students are again asked to continue their teaching and learning activities virtually, I personally think that it will not cause much problem to any party. We have successfully acclimatized ourselves with this blended learning process. In fact, e-learning has been a boon in such a bane like this ongoing pandemic!
Those who cannot but have to go outside for their livelihood must abide by the rules. A mask is a must in the public domains. Human gathering in large groups should strictly be discouraged. Any sort of party and get together should not take place as the chances of infection can be uncontrollable. Then the questions come: Won’t we then live a normal life? Won't we then have fun with friends and family? The answer lies in the secret of sustainable weight loss process! Yes, in a sustainable and healthy weight loss journey, one should not omit any type of food. Omitting results in deprivation. So, limiting carbohydrates or fats may help to reduce extra kilos sustainably.
Similarly, we can have fun with our near and dear ones in a limited way. We can visit tourist places, but in a small group, let’s say, only with the core family members, by following the pandemic rules. If life sustains and we survive healthily, we can again get together with all the bigger and more extended family members and friends. For now, keeping safe is more important than socializing. Still, the impact and importance of socializing cannot be ignored anyway. It is reported that every one person in two is having some sorts of mental problems due to the pandemic. Our mind is as important as our body. So, besides the health of our body, we must take care of our mind too.
We are in a position where we cannot go back to the new normal and also cannot fully stick to the normal. In such time, only self awareness helps the most. We must act responsibly. Since we have already had the assumption of coexisting with this virus, we must develop and maintain healthy habits. We should not try to get over with Omicron, rather be safe and think of living a healthier and longer life. May this incredible Mother Nature listen to our cry and let us live in harmony!
The writer is a Lecturer, Department of English Language and Literature, Premier University, Chittagong