Briones: Annus horribilis

Publio J. Briones III
·2 min read

So how was your Christmas?

Based on the photos posted on my social media account, it looked like everyone had a good time.

Nobody seemed to be lacking in the food department. Of course, being Filipinos, no one would dare post a photo of an empty table on such a festive occasion. What would other people say?

There were the expected laments; family members not being around or not being able to join because of restrictions imposed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Those who have internet connection could still count themselves lucky because they could actually Zoom and pretend they were all in the same room. Assuming they knew how to set up a Zoom meeting.

And since we have been in a health crisis since March, some of us have lost loved ones to the disease. I cannot begin to imagine how they felt, let alone pretend to know that I do without insulting the memory of their dearly departed.

I don’t mean to be morbid. After all, there is still the New Year.

Am I looking forward to it? Yes, I am. But perhaps not for the reason you might think. You see, I just want 2020 to be over with.

It seems like I slept through most of this year even though I was in the thick of things since I work in the media and hence was, for the most part, aware of what was going on while the pandemic slowly spread across our archipelago.

It’s like a bad dream. You remember bits and pieces but you can never put your finger on the specifics. The feeling of dread, though, remains. It lingers, to quote a song, like a haunting refrain and I find it spinning round in my head.

Perhaps I am still asleep. And the nightmare isn’t over.

How else would you explain news of a new coronavirus strain “that has been predicted to potentially be more rapidly transmissible than other circulating strains of Sars-CoV-2,” the virus that causes Covid-19? Talk about putting a damper on things.

I don’t know if that changes things in countries that have started vaccinating its population against the disease. Hopefully, it won’t.

In England, where the latest strain was detected, the chief medical officer said it “can spread more quickly and was responsible for 60 percent of new infections in London.”

He didn’t say if it was more lethal but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that “a strain that spreads faster could lead to more infections, which in turn might lead to more hospitalizations and deaths.”

Again, we’re dealing with conjectures. Yet, I’m afraid this bit of information may only put us back to square one.

From a distance, I can hear a faint jolly good “Ho, Ho, Ho” but I don’t think it’s coming from Santa.