In the news · Notes from West London · Word of the week

Word of the week: variant

Another month, another variant. A year after we first heard of the COVID-19 strain of Coronavirus, which has transformed all our daily lives, news emerges of another variant, from South Africa. This follows on from the UK variant announced late last year.

Here in the UK, over 100,000 people have died in the last year within 28 days of a positive COVID test, the highest death rate of any country in Europe. The UK has also been rolling out vaccinations to combat the virus at a higher rate than anywhere else in Europe, but that might not be much consolation to the hundreds of thousands of people who have lost family members and loved ones.

Until today I knew of only a handful of friends and family who had tested positive for Coronavirus, and hadn’t seen any of them since long before their diagnoses. Some friends in North London (husband, wife, two children) all had the virus before Christmas, and have just about recovered. We haven’t seen them since last July. My nephew, who usually lives in Spain but was working in Luxembourg for much of 2020, tested positive in November, but was not badly affected. I haven’t seen him in person since 2019. Earlier this evening my godson in Kilkenny texted me to let me know that his grandmother, a close family friend from the time they lived here in London, had been admitted to hospital and died this morning, aged 85. She’s the first family member or friend that I know of to fall to Coronavirus. I don’t know what variant it was, but the end result is the same, and we are unable to travel for the funeral. May she rest in peace.

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