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.]
Linked up with Denyse Whelan Blogs for #LifeThisWeek
I saw that sourdough comment too and thought it was perfect. I saw Aaron Chen just after last lockdown and he asked a guy in the audience what he’d been watching in lockdown and the guy siad “Tiger King’. Chen replied “Tiger King was last lockdown, this lockdown was Squid game”. Our last two years have been very marked by collective behaviours. It’s so weird.
On a personal observation, everyone I know who caught it in Dec, it moved thru their household in isolation. Everyone in jan, no one caught it off them, including a positive man who had to drive his family home for 7 hours in a car. Not one person in his fam of 4 caught it from him. Soooooo weird.
Haha – very true about Squid Game. Have to admit though that I haven’t watched it. Once I heard a bit about what it’s about I knew I didn’t think I could cope with it! So many people that I know have gotten Covid. I feel a bit like a sitting duck here but keeping fingers and toes crossed anyway. It IS strange how whole households don’t always end up getting it. My sister-in-law’s husband had it but she managed to escape getting it. They lived at opposite ends of the house and put precautions in place. Still, it’s a bit of a miracle!
I’ve still yet to see a RAT in person 🙂 I’m pretty much staying home til at least March – I mean I generally avoided places like shops and cafes anyway as I don’t like the over-stimulating environment. I usually only go places that don’t have humans anyway! Thankfully it seems my new job will let us stay WFH until we feel safe to return, which is good.
I have managed to get 2 packs each containing 2 tests – so one for each of us here (ordered online) and await another order! Even if I stayed home and rarely went out it won’t help me because three others that I live with are out and about and could bring it back to me. You’re very lucky you can work from home!
Hi Min – you’re certainly keeping up with all the stats and the progress of this annoying virus. I try to ignore it as much as possible (head in the sand….) but here in WA it’s creeping slowly around and we’re all in masks like the rest of the world – after having a pretty good run of being ‘normal’ for longer than most. I’m just so tired of it all and hopefully each mutation will get milder than the last until it rates as just a flu and we can get on with our lives again…..but that won’t be for a while yet I’m afraid. I got into Wordle a couple of weeks ago, I don’t know whether I love it, but only having one to do each day keeps me coming back for more.
Hi Leanne, I’m actually not up with all the stats at all! I just have a general knowledge of what’s going on from the news. I’m over it all too – which is why I haven’t done a Corona Chronicles post in 6.5 months but I thought I’d better get one done now to capture this particular moment in time as part of the series. I’ll return to regular programming next post no doubt! I don’t think I’d say I ‘love’ Wordle either. It’s a bit of fun but if it disappeared, then I wouldn’t be devastated!
I thought we’d be done and dusted with Covid by now, it really has outstayed it’s welcome! We’ve been very Covid cautious here since Omicron made it’s presence felt and are just feeling brave enough to venture out but only in outdoor settings. Yay for being boosted! And thank you for posting the real wordle link. I checked out the app store and there were so many kinds, I wasn’t sure which was the original!
I thought it would be mostly over by now too – or at least life would have returned a little more to normal and less fear and general pandemic anxiety! I’m trying to be very Covid/Omicron cautious too but there are risks all the time. I stick to outdoor settings but sometimes, like for medical appointments, indoor settings are unavoidable. Then there’s the fact I live with three others and I’m back and forth looking after Mum. THere’s risks every day. Sigh! Your welcome re the ‘real’ Wordle link. The app store has so many copycats/fakes!
This was a great recap of the situation Min, it’s not been fun at all and such a worry for many. We have had all our vaccinations now and I managed to get some RATs from the local pharmacy, they were taking names and as soon as an order came in they were basically gone! My husband and grown up daughters are into Wordle but I’ve resisted the urge so far, I think I’m one of a handful who haven’t got into it. Take care – love that video too by the way 🙂
Great that you’ve managed to get hold of some RATs Deb. I quite enjoy Wordle – it’s just once/day but I’m not obsessed with it like many seem to be! lol Glad you liked the video – it makes me laugh every time!
I can remember back to early 2020 when the doctor told my partner we would both have to take leave from work and isolate until there was a vaccination, This was due to his immunity issue. At the time we weren’t concerned, thinking it would only last a few months. We never dreamt it would still be raging on on 2022. Ive been trying to avoid Wordle but feel myself about ready to fold as I see all the twitter posts. I loved reading your post.
Gosh that must have been scary to be told to take leave and isolate! When the pandemic first hit our shores I can honestly say I was absolutely terrified! What I was seeing on TV that was happening around the world was devastating! I never would’ve thought that we’d still be in the midst of a pandemic in 2022. If you fold and start playing Wordle it’s OK! It’s just once a day and doesn’t take up much time. I’m so glad you enjoyed reading my post – thank you! I know the topic is one we’re all sick of but I wanted to try and post a snapshot now and then to capture this really weird time in history.
Life has changed so much hasn’t it? This was unimaginable two years ago. I just read a novel set in the early days of the virus – Feb 2020 and the first case arrived in Ireland. It was surreal and the author (who wrote it back then) really captured the way we thought: the terrible initial fear, but a certainly it would be gone soon.
Life has change a lot! I could never have imagined this scenario in my life. Maybe in a movie … but not real life! What was the name of the novel you read? It sounds like a great read!
Such a good idea to keep this chronicle Min. Yes to remembering what it’s been like and the somewhat uneasy times ahead. Entering the 3rd year of uncertainty has had me in a bit of turmoil but that, as I now realise is my way of knowing what I need to do to better care for myself emotionally.
YOU have had so much on your plate caring wise…I hope that you are being as good to you now too as you need to be. I do enjoy wordle.
Many thanks to you for linking up for Life This Week with a blog post. I look forward, I hope, to seeing you back on Mondays whenever that works for you! Denyse.
Thanks Denyse. I kinda hesitate to write these posts because 1) I’m sick of everything coronavirus, 2) I know everyone else is sick of everything coronavirus, and 3) I usually like to keep the topics discussed on the blog – light and easy and fun. BUT I’m committed to trying to capture snapshots of time during these crazy pandemic days and so I’ll continue as long as the pandemic continues … and no I did not think it’d still be going in 2022! I do have a lot on my plate. I’m trying to be gentle on myself but am finding it quite frustrating having so many aspects of my life on hold at the moment. When I feel that way though – I need to remind myself of the bigger picture and that helps. I’m glad you’re enjoying Wordle – I am too! I’ll link up when I can but under my current circumstances every week is too hard. xo
Hello Min. It’s been a while since we’ve connected. I’m happy to hear that so far you have avoided getting COVID. Me too. Like you, though, I’m not overly confident in my ability to continue COVID-free. It is all around me! Still I do what I can. I am boosted, wear a mask in public, and wash my hands a lot. I’ve been working from home for four weeks and am scheduled to do so for two more weeks. We’ve peaked with Omicron where I am and the numbers are coming down…for now. The U.S. has provided four free tests per family through the mail and mandated that insurance cover testing without cost to insureds. Of course, there is always a cost; the tests aren’t produced for free, so someone has to pay for them, but hopefully this helps so that cost doesn’t prevent someone from getting tested. Of course, as you noted, the real challenge is getting your hands on a test right now!
Hi Christie – it’s so nice to connect with you again. Thank you for making the effort to comment! It’s so interesting to hear how things are done over where you are as compared to here – 4 free tests per family is better than nothing I guess but not quite as good as they have it over in the UK for example. I hope you (and I) can remain Covid free and if we succumb to it – may it be mild, short lasting, and we recover fully to get on with life. Take good care of yourself!
Hi Min, Mike and I have had our boosters and without side affects which is good. Ethan had his first vaccination on the day children 7 – 11 could have them. It is a new way of life isn’t it? Mask wearing, vaccinations,, boosters but I still find that many are complacent, especially here on the GC and that isn’t good for the community. I hope your Mum is going okay. Take care xx
Hi Sue – so glad you and Mike have had your boosters and good to hear little Ethan has had his first vaccination. I have to admit that I’ve been glad to not have small children at this time to worry about – with school, and RAT tests and masks – it’s a different world nowadays to have to navigate with them. My heart goes out to all parents of small kids! Mum has improved quite a bit since a certain diagnosis and appropriate treatment but still some areas of concern. Hope you have a great week! xo
yes i am a bit of a wordle fan too! i think i’ve played about ten games. what a funny old world we live in. interesting that we no longer wear masks or check in. winter will be veeerrryyy interesting covid-wise. cheers sherry
Wordle is such fun to do each morning as I have my coffee! There’s been some tricky words lately! I’m still wearing a mask when I go out but I’m not bothering with checking in unless it’s required.