Just when the world (or at least Australia) thought that the worst of COVID was behind us now that we had widespread vaccination, the Omicron variant rampaged across the world.
Even when it first appeared a month ago today, I had the same response that I had when COVID first emerged.
Nah, this ain't serious, it can't be thaat bad, right?
Oh how wrong I was.
Despite the fact that 93.5% of the eligible population 16 years and over have been double vaccinated, we still had 5715 new cases yesterday. This is the highest number of cases we've had in NSW for the entire duration of the pandemic. As of today, there are 347 COVID-19 cases in hospital, with 45 people in intensive care, 13 of whom require ventilatory support.
Yet the state government has decided to continue to abstain from imposing any sort of preventative measures to prevent our hospital system from being overrun... ahhhh, I won't get into the politics today.
Anyways, my Amma (this is the Tamil word for mum) woke up on Monday morning with a headache, runny nose and cough and so at my prompting, she and my Appa (you might've already guessed that's the Tamil word for dad) got tested. The next day her symptoms were slightly better, and my dad got his results back saying he was negative. However, my mother's results hadn't returned, but we thought that surely if she was positive my dad would've been too. This belief was further strengthened when my sister got a rapid PCR test on Wednesday morning saying that she was negative.
And so it was a bit of a shock when at 5:51pm yesterday afternoon, she received a text from NSW Health confirming her positive status.
COVID had reached the suburbs of Newcastle.
Just when we thought Amma was looking like she was over the worst of the symptoms, last night she began vomiting more frequently and had some diarrhoea too. It was actually quite concerning how unwell she got and there were definitely dark moments when some negative thoughts ran through my mind.
It's surprising how much of a rollercoaster the illness associated with COVID is. In my knowledge, the disease course of most viral illnesses is bell-shaped; people get worse, then they improve and return to baseline with few if any lasting effects.
But COVID has a much more up-and-down course and is more likely to cause lasting effects like respiratory issues, renal impairment and cardiac complications.
But this is just purely anecdotal, I've done minimal research on this area so don't trust anything I say.
Anyways, since my Mum has COVID, I'm now classified as a close contact and today is my Day 1 of properly being in self-isolation.
Seeing my Amma remain locked in her room for the past few days has made me realise how much I value my freedom. I can't imagine the torture of being confined to a single room for two weeks, with meals left at your doorstep and your only interaction with other people via Facetime. It would drive me mad.
I guess that's the basis of solitary confinement and boy am I glad that I don't commit crimes.
If I was to get COVID, I'd want to be in a house where everyone had it, because at least you'd have other people to experience it with and you'd have more than just your bedroom to move through. But I'd obviously also want no-one to be seriously sick because... well I'm not a psycho who wants to see people suffer.
I want to document what this period has been like so that in the future, when I inevitably get complacent about what living through COVID was like, I can re-read this and re-live the experience of being locked down.
This morning my Appa, my sister and I all got PCR tests. It'll be interesting to see what the result is.