Star comment: We should be mindful but not alarmist over Strep A

It is not surprising there is a nasty case of Strep A spreading through schools and workplaces.

With immune systems still vulnerable after the years of Covid isolation, we are more likely to fall foul of seasonal illnesses.

The experience of Australia during winter showed us that we should expect a particularly nasty strain of flu-related illnesses. That is precisely what has happened.

It is easy to panic, given recent experience, when we hear tragic stories of deaths. However, a note of caution is sensible, as is a sense of perspective. Despite a number of very painful cases, most episodes are mild.

The advice to parents, outlined in today’s newspaper, is to seek medical help if there are concerns. As a precautionary measure, it is now likely that classmates of those affected may be offered antibiotics as an added protection.

After the horrors of Covid, society is understandably jumpy when it comes to seasonal illness. Like Covid, our best bet is to listen to the advice of experts and act on it.

Strep A is unlikely to prevent most of us from living what we now consider ‘normal’ lives, following the privations of Covid. We do not need to lock ourselves away en masse or avoid contact with loved ones. However, we must be mindful that we may not be as hardy or resilient as we were, pre-Covid, and a number of precautions are sensible.

As we head towards the festive season, it is neither a time for risks nor a time for depriving ourselves of the joys of Christmas.

We should take sensible precautions, while going about lives in the normal way and enjoying the time of year.

***

Smoking gives addicts wrinkles, makes their breath smell and is likely to kill. It also costs a packet.

So why a small minority maintain the habit is a question that leaves non-smokers scratching their heads.

It is, of course, incredibly addictive. And while vaping has helped, urban parts of the West Midlands continue to see smoking levels way above the national average.

Smoking appears to be predominantly a working class habit. That means that those who can least afford it are the ones smoking.

At a time when money is needed for food, heating and rent, it is literally being burned. There is no logic.

The issue of smoking in some of our economically deprived towns is a challenge that we must continue to tackle, through continuing to spread the warning message and actively helping smokers to break the habit.

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