Following a significant drop in COVID-19 infections, many people had hoped to celebrate yuletide holidays with pomp and circumstance, visiting malls, cinemas and clubhouses to unwind and have fun-filled holidays unrestricted unlike restrictions on social gatherings that characterised the preceding festive.
Unfortunately, just a few weeks to the yuletide, a deadlier and more virulent COVID-19 variant, omicron, discovered in South Africa threw a spanner in the works. Within days, the rate of infection surged and spread globally, forcing countries to re-impose travel bans, among other measures, to stem the spread.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has advised that national and international travels should be jettisoned at this period except they are unavoidable. The NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said the increased infection rate must serve as a strong warning for people not to let down their guard.
Compliance to non-pharmaceutical protocols such as social distancing, wearing of face masks and use of hand sanisers has since been encouraged as scientists try to learn more about the new variant.
A public health expert, Dr Rotimi Adesanya, advised that as much as people would love to have a great time, it is important to embrace preventive measures against COVID-19.
He said, “The figure of this omicron variant is getting higher and higher by the day. Lagos recorded nearly 1,000 COVID-19 cases some days ago and that’s just for those who got tested. A lot of people have been infected, so people should be careful.
“I am not saying that people should not socialise because man is a social animal, people should just follow the safety guidelines and the government should also enforce those guidelines especially at the event centres. People have stopped observing all of these rules and if we continue like this, the outcome would be unpleasant for us all.”
Two things have been established about omicron: it’s highly transmissible, and more infectious than the delta variant. Also, the ability of vaccines to stop omicron variant infections after two doses was said to have been dropped according to scientists in South Africa. And in the United Kingdom, health officials say the risk of a household member spreading the virus to another member is three times higher than it was with the delta variant.
However, the good news is that the situation was not as bad as it was in 2020. We’re in a much different place than we were last Christmas. Even if the vaccines can’t stop all infections, scientists have found that they still offer good protection against the severe disease. And if you are able to get booster shots, you are highly protected and can go ahead with your holiday plans without fear.
But if you are among millions of Nigerians who have yet to be fully vaccinated let alone boosted, you can still have memorable Christmas and New Year holidays. Here are 10 ways to have enjoyable holidays without getting exposed to the infection and put your life on the line.
Plan some fun activities for everyone
You can opt for some fun outdoor activities keeping social distancing in mind. Watch Santa movies together or any other family movies. Plan board games, or make your own games. Anything can be done just to take away the boredom of staying at home.
Share an old tradition
What did you love doing as a child? You can watch all the old TV specials. “Think about what is the essence of the holiday for you, so you can try to preserve it,” said author of ‘Happier at Home,’ Gretchen Rubin. “Even if you’re not doing everything you used to, you can set up the holiday decorations, if that’s really important, or make the special foods you love.”
Start a new tradition
Perhaps, you can treat yourself to skating in the park on Christmas Eve; or find a spot in your compound to make barbecue. A family slumber party next to the tree won’t also be a bad idea. Brainstorm with your kids; just try something different to enjoy the holiday.
Show kindness to the needy
Share your holiday spirit with a family on the other side of the world. You could visit orphanage homes, hospitals and others. Imagine the excitement a child will feel when those food items are delivered. There are so many ways to brighten someone’s day; buy coffee for a stranger, call a loved one unexpectedly, send a meal to a friend, and donate blood. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s how much the people in our lives mean to us. Spread some happiness where you can. Write down how much the people you love mean to you and send it out to them. Make Christmas cookies and leave some with your friends and neighbours—or drop off pizza or other treats at a local nursing home, hospital, or fire department to brighten the lives of the people there.
Patronise small business
When it comes to Christmas celebrations, gift-giving plays a big role. This Christmas, shopping local or small businesses can really help business owners trying to stay afloat through the pandemic, and will boost the meaning behind your gifts.
Dressed to the nines
You don’t have to have guests coming or be attending a dinner elsewhere to dress for the occasion. Put your fancy garments on and enjoy your turkey, rice and trimmings.
Attend online service
Faith services are an important part of Christmas for many people. If you are afraid of being exposed to the virus, understandably so, you don’t have to forgo a service. You can find a church that is holding it online and tune in.
We may not have the opportunity to see one another face-to-face this holiday period, but you can still send messages of hope and love, via cards. Make your loved ones extra meaningful by sending them crafty cards.
You can ask your family members for a list of five or 10 gifts they would like to receive with the understanding they would receive only one or two. There is no crime asking for a gift of your choice from your loved ones as well insofar it is affordable to them.
Adhere to safety tips
Wash your hands well and often. Wash for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitiser with at least 60 per cent alcohol. Be mindful of people who are sick, clean surfaces such as doorknobs and counters that are prone to constant touches and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Sources: Kidshealth.org, worldvision.ca, latimes.com