Hurdles to clear on the Covid final straight

WITH vaccines around the corner and the number of on-island active cases down to just one it is natural to start looking to life after the pandemic.

Pictures of smiling scientists and national headlines about Covid restrictions being ‘over by Easter’ only add to the sense that we are on the last leg of a long and dangerous journey.

Guernsey’s patient, cautious approach is still paying dividends. While a traditional Christmas is under threat across much of Europe, thousands of islanders were able to take their children to Market Square to see Santa arrive and the lights turn on.

The cluster of cases that set hearts racing in October has been squashed and the value of a rapid and effective test and trace system once again been illustrated.

But, like a rugby player celebrating before they have grounded the ball over the tryline, it is best not to get careless and assume we are home and dry.

Many elements have to come together to bring this crisis to an end.

Firstly, the vaccines need to be fully approved and distributed.

Guernsey has been working hard to ensure it benefits from being part of the NHS system, but the likelihood is we will see only a small number of vaccines before Christmas. The scramble around the world for first access to a proven vaccine will be intense.

Distribution then becomes key. Thousands of islanders, starting with the most vulnerable and health care workers, must be guided through a system where they are quickly and efficiently inoculated.

Slip-ups do occur, as we saw with the winter flu supplies, especially on an island so reliant on its freight services. Months of planning will need to go without a hitch.

It will then be up to islanders to do their bit. Listen to the scientists, accept the safety advice and turn up for jabs on time.

Only then, once enough people in the Bailiwick have been inoculated and the prevalence across Europe has dropped, will it be possible to relax. And even then, it may be that repeat doses are needed and islanders must learn to live with better hand hygiene and Covid caution.

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