Preety and dangerous- new Covid variant, Omicron
Preety and dangerous- new Covid variant, Omicron

"Christmas eve will find me Where the love light gleams I'll be home for Christmas If only in my dreams" … Song written by Kim Gannon and composed by Walter Kent (1943)

This vicious virus is doing it again; it is drumming up to destroy people's planned merrymaking with family and friends as the new and more contagious Covid-19 variant, Omicron, is beginning to shut down the world. Dominicans must not play deaf and dumb to what's happening around them and believe Omicron will "pass us straight" and not overtake our lives.

So, let Christmas eve and Boxing Day, and New Year's Day as well, find you at home and not at the fete down the road or risking the infection of Granny and Grandpa by traveling to "the country" such as Delices and Grand Bay.

As The SUN goes to press for this, our final issue for 2021, Omicron is shutting down the major industrialized countries.

The ABC news network reported recently that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been detected in 89 countries, and COVID-19 cases involving that variant are doubling every 1.5 to 3 days in places with community transmission and not just infections acquired abroad.

Most seriously, the Omicron variant is spreading rapidly even in countries with high vaccination rates. Germany has tightened restrictions for travelers arriving from Britain as cases explode. The UK is approaching 100,000 new COVID infections a day. Omicron's "substantial growth advantage" over the Delta variant means it is likely to soon overtake Delta as the dominant form of the virus in countries where the new variant is spreading locally, the World Health Organisation, the UN health agency, said. The WHO noted that Omicron was spreading rapidly even in countries with high vaccination rates or where a significant proportion of the population has recovered from COVID-19.

It remains unclear if the rapid growth of Omicron cases is because the variant evades existing immunity, is inherently more transmissible than previous variants, or a combination of both, WHO said.

Other major questions about Omicron remain unanswered, including how effective each of the existing COVID-19 vaccines is against it. Conclusive data also does not exist yet on how ill Omicron makes COVID-19 patients, the health agency said.

Omicron is already in the Caribbean; Trinidad has reported the presence of one case of Omicron.

"The way in which the Omicron variant slipped into the country emphasises why it is better to focus on building a defense against Covid-19 than to rely too much on blocking its entry," a local newspaper advised. "As we in T&T very well know, neither border closures nor stringent immigration requirements provide any guarantee of keeping the virus out of our borders, regardless of variant".

So, as the Creole saying goes "Lè bab kamawad ou pwi difé, wouzé sa w" Translation: "when your friend's beard is on fire, wet yours". Maybe it's a good thing that the level of activity in Dominica for Christmas 2021 has been dismally low.

There are no statistics to confirm it beyond reasonable doubt but based on the casual observation of shops and stores in Roseau, Christmas 2021 could be the worst ever for consumer spending. Nevertheless, this situation may be a blessing in disguise and could be an opportunity for Dominicans to recapture the true meaning of Christmas and to de-emphasise that element of consumerism that we have adopted over the years. And slow down the spread of the new virus variant.

Christmas 2021 will be awful for retailers because our glum economy has been made worse by the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of revenue-generating activities such as the World Creole Music Festival (WCMF) during the Independence celebration period and carnival 2021. So owners of businesses who depend on Christmas sales for approximately 40 percent of their total annual sales will have a tough time at Christmas 2021.

In the past, Dominicans depended heavily on remittances from friends and relatives in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom to purchase food, toys, and drinks for Christmas. This has apparently increased in 2021. Other Dominicans have had to dip into their savings or borrow from financial institutions or community credit unions to spend for Christmas. Undoubtedly, this new debt will affect loans and mortgage payments next year and that increased liability will have a negative impact on the economy because the public will have less money to spend.

A nation cannot consume more than it produces and unquestionably, Dominicans have been unproductive in 2021 as they have been many years in the past.

Beyond any doubt, Christmas had lost much of its spirituality long before economic pressure forced Dominicans to think twice about excessive spending. For many years, persons have had second thoughts about the tradition associated with the celebration of Christmas such as the exchange of gifts and decorating Christmas trees. Many religious denominations have also begun questioning the origin of Christmas and its connection to paganism. But this has not dampened the public's recognition of Christmas as an important event on the nation's annual calendar.

Christmas coincides with the end of the year and the culmination of the festivities, no matter how low-keyed ushers in a new year. While businesses do all in their power to capitalise on the commercialization of Christmas, the Sun and other news organisations, review the major news events of the year. As usual this year the Sun presents its special News-Review and we have maintained our tradition of naming our Person-of-the-Year in this final issue of the year.

This year the Sun's Person-of-the-Year is Mehul Choksi, the Indian/ Antiguan man who came here illegally or was kidnapped and taken here, and for 51 days the island was inundated with negative publicity.

Our choice has always been the person, institution, or organisation that stands out as a significant newsmaker during the year. As we have decided, our Person-of-the Year should, for better or for worse, have affected the lives of a large majority of Dominicans.

Finally, on behalf of the staff of the Sun, we wish all our readers, contributors, critics, vendors, subscribers, and advertisers a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

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