Omicron has swept the world this December. First identified in South Africa in late November, it has quickly spread throughout all continents. This highly contagious strain of COVID has infected vaccinated, previously infected people and disrupted holiday plans. The already strained hospital system is crumbling, with case numbers rising rapidly.
Considered a milder strain in comparison to Delta, the good news about Omicron is that less people are being admitted to hospital and the intensive care unit. The bad news is that it spreads at double the rate of Delta.
Occurring right at the holiday season means that the workforce is already stretched thin. In NSW there are over 2000 health care workers furloughed, and whole hospitals have cancelled annual leave for every junior doctor employed there.
I received a text asking for me to give up my approved leave to assist in two hospitals in need of doctors. My own workplace is scrambling to fill holes in staffing, while COVID reduces numbers daily.
On top of this, families and friends have been waiting all year (in lockdown) to celebrate Christmas and New Years together. Millions of people have received the news that they cannot. Contracting COVID right at Christmas or being a close contact means isolation and illness instead of celebration.
When I first got my text that I was COVID positive on Christmas Eve (the night my family celebrate Christmas) I was devastated.
Then I realised that I was but one of millions experiencing the same thing. I also received an influx of love and care from my friends and family. People dropped off Christmas dinner, presents, groceries and care packages.
The system is falling apart right now, but the fact that as a community we are coming together really makes me hopeful. I’m grateful for my friends and family, and hope that 2022 is a better year for all.