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Image Credit: Seyyed de la Llata/Gulf News

Dubai: When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020, I watched the 2011 movie Contagion for the second time.

Wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and not sharing items of personal use with others were shown as ways to stay safe from the virus. 

As a journalist who has been reported on several stories involving people’s daily lives ever since COVID-19 broke out, I have seen how during the first few days, many of us didn’t know how to cope with the precautionary measures to keep the virus at bay.

However, with the passage of time, one gradually got used to the ‘new normal’.

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But there seem to be some exceptions still.

I still remember a recent Saturday afternoon when I went with a friend to a coffee shop. The waiter guided us to a wooden table with two chairs at the far corner of the shop, in compliance with the safe-distancing requirement between tables.

Two women were seated a few metres away, chatting, and one of them was smoking the hookkah. Shortly afterwards, I was shocked to see her hand over the hookkah to her friend. The other woman started smoking from the same hose without any hesitation at all.

Within the next few minutes, the shisha hose was being passed between the two ladies repeatedly, despite fervent appeals by a waiter not to do so.

Manager steps in

Finally, the cafe manager had to intervene. He insisted that the women either comply with the rules or leave the place. It was only then that they stopped sharing the hose.

We may not think twice about such actions at other times, but we can no longer afford to do that now.

The same is the case with not wearing masks, not washing hands at regular intervals or sharing the same cutlery or crockery.

In these uncertain times, we need to be aware of the public health consequences of each of our actions, whether big or small.