Canberra is over COVID, but COVID isn’t over for Canberra.
While most of us are going about our business and leisure as if the pandemic were behind us, it is worth remembering that the national capital is experiencing around 1000 new cases a day.
And there are dozens of people in hospital with the virus, and dying with it, albeit mostly elderly.
More people have died with the virus this year in the ACT (43) than in the previous two years (12), including four last week.
Fortunately, the latest variants appear less severe than earlier ones, although COVID remains an illness one does not want to get, with a bunch of possible long-term impacts.
It remains a frightening and isolating time for those who are immunosuppressed or have certain disabilities.
But despite this, and the fact that the virus remains extremely contagious, many Canberrans are discarding masks, forgetting about social distancing and, to their cost, forgetting the sanitising regime that has kept most of us safe.
Some people have even reported being criticised or mocked for continuing to wear a mask in public.
Vaccinated or not, people have a good chance of contracting the virus if they become too complacent and forget basic hygiene measures that will probably also protect them from the flu.
Governments have decided that we can no longer afford, or will even tolerate, density limits, travel restrictions, and lockdowns. We are prepared to accept the cost of living with the virus.
Some like to compare it to the flu, which also carries away a number of people each year.
But medical experts warn against this, reminding us that COVID is much more virulent and deadly.
So as we head into winter, when both COVID and flu can be a more serious proposition, it would be wise, even if vaccinated, for us to remember to be cautious about where we are, to carry a mask and sanitise and wash our hands regularly.
We should stay warm by dressing appropriately and not rely on air conditioning and heating to save us.
We should also remember that healthy food could be our best medicine to boost our immune systems and stave off viruses of all kinds.
If you are going to live with COVID, flu and whatever, then you should give yourself the best chance to keep it at bay.
It would also be good to respect each other’s different ways of dealing with the COVID threat by acknowledging people’s decision to wear a mask, keep their distance or avoid jumping on a plane.
Canberra has been a blessed city during the pandemic and the relief to be back to some kind of normal is palpable, but the pandemic is not over.
It would be worth our while to remember that.
See Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman’s winter health tips.