The last few months have been a period unlike any of us have ever seen. Humanity has had to deal with a challenge that most of us had imagined was consigned to the history books.

As winter approaches with the counties of Newport, Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr and Torfaen all in local lockdown, it’s difficult to be able to look to the future with a sense of optimism. But it’s crucial that we try.

After all, here in Wales we succeeded in bringing the virus under control after the first serious outbreak at the beginning of the year. Most of us have been able to see our friends and families and experience some semblance of normality over summer.

Many families have lost loved ones and I know that communities have rallied around their neighbours who have had to experience grief.

But many lives were saved thanks to people’s willingness to follow the rules, to accept that a temporary curtailing of freedom is a price worth paying to prevent further loss of life.

The winter was always going to pose a big challenge. We always knew that and being mentally prepared to face the months ahead is half the battle.

There are steps we all can take in order to minimise the hardships to come.

First of all we all need to follow the rules. I’ve received hundreds of queries from constituents who were anxious and confused for now knowing what they were due to an initial lack of clarity, but this situation has now been rectified, and the full information can be found on the Welsh Government’s website:

It’s also important that people who are eligible to receive flu jabs take up that offer. The eligibility criteria has been expanded this year to include everyone who’s over 50. Reducing the prevalence of seasonal flu will help the NHS to give everyone the care they need. The NHS should get in touch to offer it, but if not, you can always ask your GP or your local pharmacy.

All of us also need to remember to look out for each other, by making sure our friends and neighbours have what they need, whether that is supplies from the shop or a chat at the end of the day.

This won’t last forever, a vaccine will eventually be found and we’ll be able to return to our day-to-day lives. Humanity has a unique ability to adapt to any new situations. We are adapting now, and we will win, and we’ll hopefully look back at this period with a sense of pride, knowing that we all came together under challenging circumstances to defeat a common foe.