For much of the world and indeed for Botswana, the year ends the same way it begun; with coronavirus still raging.
It has been a particularly difficult year for Batswana.
They have lost lives and livelihoods.
They buried too many of their loved ones.
In some instances whole families have been decimated.
We remember those of our countrymen and women that lost their lives to coronavirus.
We pray for their souls, and hope that their lives were not lost in vain.
We want to recognise our frontline workers.
These are the teams that carried us this far.
They have always risked their lives to save ours.
We salute them.
These are indeed our heroes.
Almost two years into this battle, they are fatigued. But they keep going.
The only way to pay them back is to help reduce their work load by doing everything that could keep us away from hospital.
Their work is far from being done.
As we speak a new variant is among us.
Little information exists on this variant.
A new variant will add a further strain on the already exhausted health system.
The system’s ability to act cannot be the same as it was at the beginning of the pandemic.
This includes such people like police, military and ambulance drivers.
They are by now visibly exhausted.
The best we can do is to seek to get vaccinated.
The new variant, omicron spreads much faster than all the previous ones.
If the infections lead to mass hospitalization that will prove tragic, no matter how low the deaths.
We should as such do everything that could help reduce potential load and strain on the health system.
The availability of vaccines in Botswana has drastically increased.
We should take advantage of it.
It is a prudent thing to do.
Experience has taught us that absence of jabs can cause carnage.
That has happened here during the winter we just emerged from.
There was bloodbath.
And if we can avoid it, we should never get back to such a dreadful and painful experience.
We must admit that under the current laws, Botswana government’s capacity to respond is no longer where it was when the country was governed through a State of Emergency.
But there are still legal instruments at the disposal of government to effectively fight the new variant.
More importantly, Botswana is today in a much better space thanks to vaccine levels.
Botswana is way ahead of many other African countries when it comes to vaccination.
In that score we should commend our authorities.
While we do that we should remember our early mistakes and hope to learn from them.
Those mistakes have badly harmed the integrity of the effort to fight the pandemic.
Trust on government has been eroded. And sadly too on the Task Force.
No fight against a pandemic can be won if there is no public trust on those leading the fight.
Public health depends heavily on the trust that the public has on those who are in leadership.
There might come a time when restrictions might be necessary to curb the spread.
We call on decision makers to act swiftly, in imposing those restrictions as in lifting them.
Botswana’s economy has become too fragile.
Too many companies have been closed.
Too many people have lost jobs.
And the government can no longer carry the load.
The best tribute we can pay to those compatriots that did not make it and lost their lives to covid-19 during the year is for those of us still alive to strive to remain and stay alive.
This is the last edition of the Sunday Standard this year.
We wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Please drive safely. Keep safe. And stay alive.
See you in the New Year.