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Two lines on a stick?

Positive men are, indeed, the most credulous

I have spent every day for the last week doing something I haven’t done for some years. 15 years if I’m being precise. Namely, staring at a little white stick, waiting for lines to appear.

The taking of the Lateral Flow Test has become something of a twice-weekly, even daily, ritual for many of us. When the pandemic took hold last year, and before the testing regimes got going, when we weren’t allowed within 2metres of anyone bar our immediate household, it wasn’t so much of a deal. Since the lockdown restriction eased though, things are getting, even dare I say it, have got, back to normal.

Now though, there are crowded pubs, business meetings, exhibitions, event awards lunches, that all require us to be in close proximity with people not in our ‘household bubble’. We all spent a lot of the pandemic wondering what the ‘new normal’ was going to look like. Well, I think I know now. The ‘new normal’ means maintaining the hand-washing and hand sanitising routines. Yes, even post-Covid, there are plenty of winter illnesses that it would really be better for us not to get. My daughter’s friend threw up 16 times yesterday – the winter vomiting virus is back with a vengeance.

The new normal means thinking about the number of people likely to be at an event and weighing up whether you really do need to be there in person. The new normal means wearing a facemask on the train, in the shops and in really crowded areas inside. The new normal means moving to  a different style of greeting each other: elbow or fist-bumps instead of handshakes and hugs, perhaps. The new normal means taking a Lateral Flow Test before every trip or meeting, book-marking the NHS PCR-booking webpage on your phone, and planning who would take your place, should the dreaded two lines turn pink.

It is what it is. Hopefully, the huge number of double-vaccinated people, plus the booster jab and 12-15yr old vaccine programmes, means that the science will have done its thing and we will cough and sneeze our way through winter as normal, without another lockdown. I don’t want to go back to the days of queuing to get into Asda and following the one-way system round the fruit and veg. I swear I lost days of my life because I’d forget to pick up the butter or the Bisto when I was in the correct aisle and would have to go round again, for fear of being denounced as a Supermarket-One-Way-System-Denier.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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