OMICRON, BOOSTERS, RATs & WORDLE – It’s been a long time since my last Corona Chronicles post (about 6.5 months!) so I thought that I should do another in order to keep a brief but reasonable record of this crazy period during our lives where we are living through a global pandemic.
I’m not going to get into all the details and statistics but hopefully give a general overview of how things are feeling and looking at this point in time – mostly from the perspective of a Queenslander within Australia.
OMICRON TAKES OVER FROM DELTA
Just as Delta was starting to subside and here in Queensland we opened our borders to all of Australia, a new Covid variant appeared – ‘OMICRON’. This also coincided with the Christmas/Summer school holidays where many Australians flock to Queensland and its beaches (hello Gold Coast)! Omicron is a lot more infectious than Delta but there was talk of it being somewhat milder. It definitely is far more infectious as nowadays you’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t know someone who’s had Covid and it’s far more likely that you’ll get Covid yourself. However, I’m not exactly sure that it is milder. Perhaps if you’re triple vaccinated it might seem to be? Some people seem to do ok with it, others get much sicker and there have sadly been many deaths, so I’m hesitant to say it’s milder.
Omicron has spread like wildfire across Australia. The only state that is not inundated by it is Western Australia as they still have their borders closed to the rest of the country. However, Omicron has still managed to get in over there anyway! It’s important to note that we still have some Delta around too but Omicron has become the most dominant variant.
Here in Queensland it’s been quite a shock as we had been fairing pretty well during the pandemic until Omicron appeared. The figure of 7 tragic deaths had stayed the same for a very long time and suddenly it was increasing every.single.day. At the time of typing this the total deaths in Queensland has now reached 196. This is such a tragic figure, and my sympathies are with all the families and friends of these people. Of course, the other states of Australia have had increased hospitalisations, those in ICU and deaths since Omicron as well.
So far, touch wood, I have remained Covid free. During this pandemic I have been PCR tested twice for Covid and both times the results were negative. I have been lucky. I hope that I can remain lucky but I am not as confident during these current times. As well as it being everywhere nowadays, ‘the tennis player’ and my two ‘kidults’ who live with me go off to work (though work from home on some days) and are out and about a lot, and though I limit my outings there are times I have to go out and times I need to go out! It is even more important though now that I not get Covid as I am caring for Mum (aged 80 and hasn’t been well).
Since Omicron made it’s appearance we’ve all been encouraged to get booster shots – initially advice was 6 months after 2nd jab, then it was 5 months after 2nd jab, then 4 months and after 31 January it will be 3 months after second jab. I had my booster shot on 28 December 2021, exactly 4 months from my 2nd jab on 28 June 2021. After my two AstraZenica jabs, I had a Pfizer booster shot. The rest of my family have all had their booster shots and I’ve also seen to it that Mum has had her booster shot as well. I predict there will be another booster recommended as we head into winter and it will be tweaked more for Omicron. It’ll be interesting to see if I’m right!
I’ve read some articles just recently about a new variant having been found in Australia – the Omicron BA.2. Ugh! BA.1 is the original Omicron strain responsible for the recent spike in cases in Australia, and BA.2 is the variation that has been detected recently. It shares 32 mutations with the original Omicron, but BA.2 also has 28 mutations which are different. As it’s only recently been detected, there’s not much known about it yet but they think it may be even more infectious than BA.1 which is ok if it’s less severe but not ok if more severe. Fingers and toes crossed it is LESS severe!
Noooo silly – not the furry rodent type! RATs are the much sought after Rapid Antigen Tests. Sadly these are not provided free to Australians and cost at least $15 per test. If you were a family of five (5) that’s a cost of $75 every time you need to test each of you. Those who hold one of the following Commonwealth concession cards are eligible for free RAT kits:
- Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
- Department of Veteran’s Affairs Gold, White or Orange Card
- Health Care Card
- Low Income Health Card
- Pensioner Concession Card
School students and teachers will soon be eligible for free RAT kits as part of the return to school strategy. Return to school here in Queensland was delayed by two weeks by the way – to try and avoid the peak of the Omicron Wave. They start back on 7 February instead of 24 January 2022.
FOR THE REST OF US: If you have COVID-19 symptoms you can attend a testing clinic and receive a free test there. Otherwise, non-concession card holders will need to purchase their RAT kit.
Then there is the issue of trying to get hold of RATs. As soon as a pharmacy gets stock it’s sold out. More success has been found ordering online but you could be waiting a while for delivery. Here’s a link that will help find places to purchase RATs online. I’ve seen some really funny video’s on social media depicting the insanity of trying to get hold of a RAT or two! Here’s one:
THE PEAK IS COMING
We’re being told (here in Queensland) that the peak is coming soon, which means the worst is about to hit and then infection numbers will start to decrease, but it won’t be going back to zero. The Gold Coast will peak before Brisbane follows. Cairns in Far North Queensland will be next and other parts of Queensland will follow at varying times.
Precautions will stay in place for quite some time to come – e.g. mask wearing, social distancing, hand hygiene etc.
Apparently, here in Queensland at least, the worst case scenario that was predicted has not been realised and that is cause for huge relief amongst epidemiologists and politicians alike. As the stats I hear each day are pretty awful anyway, I am very glad that worse has not eventuated!
I saw this recently on social media and it made me chuckle. Imagine if you saw this even just back during 2019 – you’d have no idea what it meant!
Wordle is the sourdough starter of Omicron
For anyone still a bit stumped, ‘Wordle’ has gone viral! No more baking sourdough bread, the pandemic’s latest fad is a word game.
Wordle is a daily word game you can find online here. It’s fun, simple and, like a crossword, can only be played once a day. Every 24 hours there’s a new word of the day, and it’s up to you to figure it out what it is.
Here’s how to install the REAL Wordle app onto your iPhone. Beware because you’ll find lots of fake wordle games in your app store.
I recently succumbed and have played six games of Wordle now. It’s fun and just once a day so no addiction and time wasting to fear.
Two years on and the pandemic is still happening. Did you think when this all started that we’d still be in a global pandemic in 2022?
I hope this post provided a glimpse into how things are at this point of time during this pandemic here in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. I hope that wherever you are that you are safe and well.
Ciao for now,
[Please note that I am not a medical professional and have no medical expertise. This post is written through the eyes of a middle aged citizen of Brisbane, Australia. If you want expert advice in relation to Covid-19 in any way at all, please seek it from appropriate qualified health professionals.]
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