IT WAS EASTER Saturday (2022), the sun was shining, the air was warm, and we paid a visit to the world famous, popular Portobello Road Market. For the first time after over two years of pandemic-induced suppression of London’s ‘joie-de-vivre’, the market was buzzing with activity, crowded with foreign tourists and local visitors. As it was before Covid19, the market was bustling and business at the stalls, which offer everything from artichokes to antiques and pancakes to paella, seemed to be brisk.
A friend, who lives in rural France, said to me a few days ago when we were walking near Leicester Square:
“It’s hard to believe that there was ever a deadly pandemic in this city.”
And as we walked along a short street in the area, he added:
“There are more people out in this street than there are living in my hometown.”
Yet, Covid infection rates are high in the UK. Friends in India have been telling us that they are thinking twice before visiting the UK because the risk of becoming infected here is so great at the moment. Recently, I have heard that approximately between 1 in 12 and 1 and 15 people in the UK are likely to be infected with a Covid19 virus, and therefore capable of spreading it to others.
Apart from personal hygiene and wearing face coverings, good ventilation is considered to be useful for reducing the risk of spreading the viruses. So, when I boarded a bus in South Kensington recently, I opened the window closest to me – each window on London buses has a label saying “Open this window”. Immediately after following this instruction, which has been given for reasons of prevention of infection, the lady sitting behind me, who was not wearing a face covering, stood up and slammed it shut. I stood up, opened it, and told her not to touch it. She said, speaking angrily with an Eastern European accent:
“You don’t need to open it. You are wearing mask and have three vaccinations.”
How she knew my vaccination status, I do not know. My wife said to her:
“Don’t you know that one in twelve are infected?”
To which the lady replied:
“Believe what you like.”
Then to my great surprise, she added:
“Covid is over”