In the heat of battle against Covid-19 on Thursday night, my tired mind likened Covid to a Russia virus, most likely because my thoughts have been saturated by concern for Ukrainians in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s illegal and brutal invasion in that country.
This analogy is not a perfect one, is flawed, and is not meant to cause any offence because a triple-vaccinated Australian in the grips of Omicron is a far cry from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his people being subjected to lethal force being sent his way by a deranged warmonger.
But the language invasion terminology seemed to match on a micro level with the experience of enduring the virus in an isolated bedroom.
The main reason for writing this is to have a record of what it felt like in symbolic terms for future reference, noting that everybody’s experience is likely to differ.
First signs of the “Russia virus”
As we know, Putin’s invasion of Russia didn’t materialise overnight.
The topless horseman of the East, has long been considered unstable and a threat to global security by those in the know but by those in power, complacency and the whiff of wealth to be made dulled their alertness and even lulled them into love pacts.
Similarly, the two-year build up of Covid-19 and the evolving safety measures and vaccine programs, should never have been allowed to be trampled (or is that Trumpled) down by the impatient horses of political expediency. But they were.
Here in Australia, especially South Australia, we started with a measured and strict response that bought us security and protection from the worst excesses of Covid-19.
But then, like a night time driver starting to glaze over at the wheel, our politicians failed to adapt and allow moderation in our social distancing restrictions despite evidence showing the unyielding suffocation of our hospitality sectors was not based on data.
Within a state bubble, with record low numbers of community transmission cases, instead of allowing our economy to have a 2021/2022 summer of relaxed restrictions and internal economic stimulation, politicians with eyes on the fast-looming state election, gave into voices of people demanding to have xmas reunions with interstate family members, and opened the floodgates.
The clearly foreseeable rise in cases, coupled with the unfortunately-timed arrival of the new Omicron strain, the state went into panic mode and any hope of a season of recovery for our tourism and hospitality sectors were dashed. The horse had bolted, without a topless premier!
Given the complete loss of control, the government then gave in to the dizzying cries of people who wanted to dance again and play music again, so all bets were suddenly off and the state went into “full open” mode in the hope that dancing and drinking voters would forgive the screw ups and reward the return of their “freedoms” with votes.
Of course, with freedom comes great responsibility and record numbers of Covid. And this writer is one of that number.
We’ll never know whether the previously good covid hygiene was undone when I was blindsided at The Cat Empire performance at Womad. Hundreds of young people descended en masse, locking in older audience members like me who had previously watched Goanna with decent personal space in the same area.
That’s one theory. Of course, this virus could have been caught from any of the fellow shoppers and grocers who refused to wear masks at all, or properly, possibly in a sign of how “independent” they are instead of realising that wearing masks aren’t about you but about YOUR CARE for those around you.
To every person unmasked in enclosed areas or who’s been too cool to cover their bloody noses with a mask, you are one of the biggest problems of our age. You are childish, immature, and selfish. And pretty ignorant if you haven’t taken just a few moments to understand the science behind masks.
In short, it is best understood by thinking about Covid as pee and masks as trousers, as explained in this meme that appeared on Reddit in 2020.
If we could find the maturity to have informed debate at the political and social level, we could explore the new flavours of ethics at play for all performers and hospo business owners. Yes, we love you. Yes, you add richness to our lives and deserve to make a living. But imagine the guilt if your return event becomes a super spreader event. How important is it compared all the many, many knock on effects of people who caught the virus through your gathering and then passed it on to others.
We desperately need to find the nuance in our political and societal debate to get this right. Just because I feel like it is my privilege to dance, doesn’t absolve me from responsibility for the consequences of my actions.
There is a strong case for us, collectively, through our taxes, to support and insulate this important sector. There is also demand upon us to update our new normals to really embrace what a world with Covid and it’s infinite variants will look like.
This brings us to my experience with Covid this week.
Covid is like a Russia virus – here’s why
So, let’s get to this analogy. Of course, at the moment, comparing it to Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine is due to timeliness, so feel free to substitute any conflict in which a powerful oppressor launches an attack on an underpowered group.
Visit Womad to do some interviews. Social distancing pretty decent all round, right up until the ambush in the last two hours.
Daily life continued as normal. Awareness of Covid all around, much like the Russian troops amassing on the Ukrainian border, but there was confidence enough was being done to stay safe.
Another normal day. Lot’s of talking and working late into the night. Just another day in paradise. Slightly sore throat, linked to a lot of talking. Took a RAT test, negative, much like checking the radars and satellites and seeing no action amongst the Russian troops.
The first sense of skirmishes taking place. Sore throat becomes quite noticeable late afternoon, accompanied by headaches. Could be fatigue from big working day yesterday, but did a RAT test to allay fears.
Yes, the radar was suggesting an attack was now underway.
Initially, there is a sense of disbelief and shock.
But with symptoms worsening, an early morning PCR test was booked in, family members also booked in, intra-house quarantining was put into place.
This was the moment to step up to the plate and decide to defend against the attack; this was the Volodymyr Zelenskyy moment.
A fitful night of discomfort, much like citizens trying to make plans with the sounds and visions of war on the horizon.
Paracetamol supplies were checked and handed out, masks distributed, and rough plans drawn up for managing the invasion that was about to take place for real.
Official PCR test taken and within hours Covid was confirmed. No turning back.
Others in the household were found to be negative.
Thus began the long night of battle.
With a thumping headache, raging throat, nose that kept running, sore eyes, and fatigue, the night was endured with plenty of water, alternations between paracetamol and ibuprofen. Every 30 minutes or so, sleep was destroyed as my chest erupted into a battleground again.
This Russia virus is not something that can be outgunned. It became obvious it has to be outwaited, and judicious decisions were needed to keep the resistance fighters supplied.
Water, lozenges, a raised bed, these were the tools available. Occasional sneezes seemed to be more like the bodies own attack mechanisms launching full scale attacks on remnant virus forces.
The next morning, there was damage everywhere – aches everywhere, red nostrils, fatigue – but there was a glimmer of hope. The situation, though still dire, had eased.
It was like the Covid virus was a little bogged down like the Russian troops in Ukraine. There was a sense that more resistance would finally win the fight.
The day itself was draining but all symptoms were a little less severe than the day before.
That night, there were some similar experiences again but the disruptions were only every hour or so, rather than every 30 minutes.
Overall, more water and paracetamol and lozenges saw the night through.
This body is a crumbled shadow of itself but with symptoms easing off yet again, there was growing hope that all could be rebuilt.
At the time of writing, we are at an impasse.
The throat and head still feel occupied, but there is a strong sense that the tide has turned.
There is no doubt there is some body infrastructure damaged and some healing will take time, we also need to be mindful of long term effects, just as Ukraine and the world will need to do, no matter the outcome of this current war.
For me, there are four more days of isolation. For Ukraine, who knows? If only somebody was able to invite Mr Putin over for a nice cup of Russian tea.
Which reminds me. I need to top up my water again.
There is much to unpack here, for all of us, and my first hope is that we can move beyond slogans and political tribalism, and actually show the earnest courage to speak truth to power and speak truth to the dumb-headed conspiracy theories that people take harbour in to save themselves from having to actually put on adult clothes and move forward constructively for all.
There is also a great sign of human decency. Hearing about friends and families popping out to do shopping or run errands for the house bound, is a smaller version of the clarity of the human enterprise that can inspire us in times of great disruption, just like the way the comedian-turned-president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has found clarity in his calling of being a statesmanlike leader. If only we didn’t need turbulence to shake these qualities loose, but we should still grab them and nurture them when they appear.