We need to be careful over Christmas, warns MP
I want to wish all the readers of this newspaper a very happy Christmas.
This Christmas will be very different for many of us. Covid-19 has impacted all our lives in many unexpected and unwelcome ways.
Some of us will be celebrating differently to how we usually do – limiting ourselves to seeing people from only two other households for a maximum of five days over Christmas, rather than having much larger gatherings.
Many of the usual Christmas celebrations will have been cancelled or moved online and we will not be having parties for a while yet. But most poignantly during the holidays, we will remember those friends and family members we have lost to Covid-19 over the past year.
It is a truly dreadful disease and most of us have been affected by it in one way or another. We have found ourselves living very different lives to how we have usually done, our lives beset by worry and uncertainty. There has been no section of society that has not struggled – from children who could not attend school and see their friends all the way to the elderly and vulnerable who were deprived of company in order to keep them safe – and of course, everyone in between.
But there is cause for hope that 2021 will be a much better year. You are probably aware that very recently the first Covid-19 vaccine in the world was administered to a 91-year-old grandmother in Coventry.
This was the beginning of a mass vaccination programme that will start with 800,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be given over the next several weeks. This was a remarkable and very significant step in the fightback against coronavirus.
As I write, octogenarians across West Suffolk are being invited to get the jab. The NHS will contact you when it is your turn – and when you do get the call, please step forward.
Although this is a cause for celebration, we must all continue to follow the guidelines and act sensibly. We need to keep washing our hands, covering our face, and making space. Just because we have a vaccine, we absolutely must not become complacent. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel – but there is a way to go yet before we are completely in the clear.
This holiday season is unlike any other, to cap off a year unlike any other. Throughout this season, and as we move into a new and hopefully better year, I wish you moments of peace amid the difficulties, connections with family and friends even if they cannot be in person, the warmth of memories from holidays past, and wonderful thoughts of a better 2021 to come.
-- Matt Hancock is Health Secretary and MP for West Suffolk