I do not want to be the Grinch but after a week of hearing a lot of doom and gloom due to COVID positive cases in my own patient population as well as hearing about the mounting pressures in the hospital wards, I feel it is my duty to lay it out straight regarding the easing of the Christmas restrictions.

I am very worried and at times this is keeping me awake because we are already all working at capacity and it’s about to get a whole lot worse if we don’t review our own contributions to the inevitable third wave.

This week we learned about a new strain of coronavirus that may be associated with a faster spread of the virus. Within a short period of time the number of cases has shot up exponentially in the south east of England.

Dr Punam Krishan: Hearing patients doubt Covid is so concerning

Right now this seems fairly contained but from next week, when travel restrictions ease, people will be travelling around the country again. This is detrimental to the risk of transmission and may cost many lives that could have otherwise been saved. We are already battling with existing strains of COVID which we are frantically trying to vaccinate people against; I worry how we, in the NHS, will cope if we have another strain to contend with.

My intention is not to panic but to give you an insight into what we as healthcare professionals are dealing with on the ground. The messages coming from above right now appear to be conflicting and whilst I fully empathise with the sentiments of allowing people to have some comfort at Christmas with their loved ones, I worry that these very people may be the ones left with guilt, distress and possible loss in times to come.

The nation has been in varying degress of lockdown for a long time. We have not had indoor freedom for a long time. Given the freedom now, it will logistically and practically be impossible to control what will happen when people unite for the first time in a long time over the festive period.

I feel it is unfair that the public have been left to gauge risk themselves. Often those people, who are not in the healthcare sector, don’t have direct insight and therefore don’t appreciate the consequences to their actions. I do not blame people. If you have not had COVID and nobody in your inner circle has suffered from it, why would you fear it? I hear this from some people who don’t believe the pandemic is real. It really is.

We know that indoor transmission and travel have been the biggest contributors to the first two waves yet these are being being given free reign for 5 whole days next week. There are proposals for a further national lockdown after christmas, something the country really cannot afford; are these few days really worth it?

I am gutted that we do not have the pandemic under control yet because I too am desperate to spend Christmas – my baby’s first Christmas – with my family but I keep asking myself, “at what cost?”

So I share with you my grave concern and ask that you think thrice about your plans for Christmas. Where it has already been a brutal year, can we perhaps give ourselves another month to let the vaccine roll out, do its thing and postpone our celebrations to after? With kids in intensive care with COVID and rising cases with multiple deaths daily, can we do our bit and not contribute to the spread?

Dr Punam Krishan: Here's how you can look after your mental wellbeing this festive season

There will of course be situations where you feel it is essential to create that bubble to protect your loved one who may be struggling with iosolation or mental health but on the whole, we can do this safely and find other ways to celebrate whether that be virtually or from the gardens. Indoor mingling is a recipe for disaster. Let us try to gift each other health and a covid free christmas.

I am sorry for being so blunt but I am struggling to hear the stories from people who have lost their loved ones. COVID is real and it’s a huge threat and I just can’t wait for the day where we have washed our hands of it.

I always respect peoples’ choices and I hope that whatever you choose to do, you remain safe and well. Merry Christmas; turns out I’m Dr Grinch after all!