By Jamie Etheridge
This week the government made two important announcements about November. First, the ministry of interior extended all expired visas for three more months until November 30. Second, the ministry of education confirmed virtual learning for all schools until November. Kuwait will also see parliamentary polls in the later part of the month.
November is worrisome for another reason also. In the spring, when many doctors and experts were still trying to figure the coronavirus out, there were often comparisons to the 1918 Spanish flu. That pandemic took 18 months to burn itself out, killing millions in the process. A notable aspect of the Spanish flu is the way it came in ‘waves’ – a first wave in spring 1918, a second wave in fall 1918 and a third and final wave in winter 1918.
There are real and significant differences and certainly pandemics do not all act the same. But already many experts and officials around the globe are warning of a possible ‘second wave’ of coronavirus in November.
For example, in France, senior government and health officials are already warning of a likely second wave of infections in November and are curbing public activity including closing restaurants and bars early and expanding mask wearing requirements as a preventive measure. Health officials in Egypt have also warned of a second wave in November that could combine with the normal flu and cold season to trigger a surge in cases. The government of Serbia has begun vaccinating the country’s population with the flu vaccine in an effort to prevent a second wave in November.
November seems far off now. We are all still suffering from the heat of summer, the exhaustion of no break and no travel. Most parents haven’t yet come to terms with the start of school next month and most students don’t even want to think about it.
“We will have a harder time controlling coronavirus in the fall … and we will all be very tired of social distancing and other tactics. The hard thing will be to keep enough of it to protect our ICUs and keep the number of cases from flaring up,” said Marc Lipsitch, DPhil, professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in an interview in May.
We are all tired of social distancing, fed up with masks and curfews. Our children want to go to school and have playdates. We all want to travel. But the pandemic cares nothing for our fatigue. It operates on its own time frame. No one knows what will happen in the fall. Maybe the experts are wrong and we will see declining numbers of new infections, and a return to normal life. While that is the hope, it is most likely not going to be the reality.