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NHS Highland’s director of public health and policy speaks out on the importance of coronavirus rules


By Andrew Dixon

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Dr Tim Allison, director of public health for NHS Highland.
Dr Tim Allison, director of public health for NHS Highland.

Memory can be a strange thing. Why do we remember some things and not others?

One of the few things I remember from when I was a small child was being told that I needed a booster. I didn’t know what a booster was and didn’t ask. I was rather surprised to find out that it was an additional vaccination.

I don’t know if small children these days know what a booster is, but I hope that adults know about Covid boosters.

Perhaps we remember where we were when dramatic events happened such as the death of President Kennedy or Diana Princess of Wales. Do we remember where we were when Covid first hit the headlines?

I don’t remember where I was, despite my interest and my job, since the start of Covid was slow and we could not tell what would happen over the following months. I have heard it said that the Covid pandemic will live long in our memories, but I am not so sure.

We will not forget those who have died from Covid and people still suffering from long Covid will not forget. The effects on jobs and on mental health will last a long time. But if the virus has not had a dramatic permanent effect on our lives we may want to move on, put the past behind us and get back to normal.

Willie Cameron with his Nessie facemask on banks of Loch Ness..Picture: Gary Anthony..
Willie Cameron with his Nessie facemask on banks of Loch Ness..Picture: Gary Anthony..

Putting the pandemic out of our minds may be possible for some of us in the years to come, but is not right to do that now. Covid will be with us for the foreseeable future in one form or another, although its effects are likely to be less serious in future years.

At some point the pandemic will have ended, but that end is not yet in sight, and we are seeing continued spread of the virus and large numbers of cases in the community.

As Covid slips away from the headlines it is important that it does not slip from our memory because we all continue to have our own part to play in controlling the virus and protecting the vulnerable.

There have been signs across the country that Covid is being forgotten or ignored with a decline in the wearing of face coverings, even where compulsory, and less attention to hygiene.

We can all contribute to ensuring that the risks of Covid are not forgotten. We can politely ask people to keep to the rules and guidelines, as I have done regarding face coverings recently, and we can set good examples ourselves.

As we approach winter and the season of more respiratory infections, we should be sure to remember that Covid is still here.

We are still getting outbreaks and clusters of cases where people have had symptoms but still carried on as normal. It is really important to remember to isolate and get a Covid PCR test.

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


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