Covid countdown to lockdown: How the UK looked this time last year

Countdown to lockdown: 11 coronavirus deaths, deserted streets, ‘herd immunity’ and BA’s battle for survival… With just over a week until the anniversary of the first national lockdown, how the UK looked this day last year

  • On March 13, 2020, UK saw infection toll soar to 798 – and Scotland recorded its first death from the virus
  • Government had a new message: anyone who developed a cough or fever should isolate at home for a week
  • Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said he wanted 40m Britons to catch Covid for herd immunity to take effect, as it would help the nation in the long run
  • A new danger also emerged – in the form of ‘totally bogus’ Covid tips that started to circulate on social media

On this day, one year ago, the number of Covid deaths in the UK had reached 11 and Scotland recorded its first death from the virus.

March 13, 2020, also saw the infection toll soar to 798, as Britons became increasingly aware, and fearful, of the pandemic sweeping the world.

By now the coronavirus epicentre was very close to home – in Continental Europe, more governments were locking down as Boris Johnson held out.

Amid the nation’s growing sense of panic, the British Government had a new message: anyone who developed a cough or fever should isolate at home for a week.

The impact of these developments on the public was clear to see: car parks lay empty; train stations and carriages were deserted; and those who did travel on public transport used all manner of makeshift masks to try to protect themselves.

And a phrase unfamiliar to many entered our vocabulary: herd immunity.

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said he wanted 40million Britons to catch Covid for herd immunity to take effect, as it would help the nation in the long run.

Meanwhile, the London Marathon was delayed, local elections were postponed for a year, and British Airways said it was battling for survival as airlines were forced to cancel flights.

A different type of danger had also emerged, in the form of ‘totally bogus’ Covid tips that started to circulate on social media.

And in the US, Donald Trump used a press conference in the White House Rose Garden to declare a state of emergency.

Here, MailOnline continues its countdown of the days leading up to the anniversary of the first national lockdown…

March 13, 2020: UK death toll hits 11, Scotland records its first Covid fatality and infections soar to almost 800 after officials confirm 202 cases in just one DAY

By March 13 last year, more than 200 more patients were diagnosed with the killer infection in the past 24 hours, with Scotland now having 85 cases, Wales 35 and Northern Ireland 29. The rest were in England. (Above, a man is pictured at the time wearing a military gas mask on the London Underground)

Regent Street in London – usually one of the busiest shopping streets in the country – was almost deserted as people stayed away while Covid slowly tightened its grip on the nation

READ THE ORIGINAL STORY HERE

Scotland recorded its first coronavirus death as the number of victims in the UK rose to 11 and the infection toll rose to 798 after Britain saw another record amount of daily cases.

More than 200 more patients were diagnosed with the killer infection in the past 24 hours, with Scotland now having 85 cases, Wales 35 and Northern Ireland 29. The rest were in England.

Scotland’s chief medical officer confirmed a patient had died, saying: ‘I offer my deepest sympathy to their friends and family at this difficult time’. Officials refused to release any other details.

With coronavirus fears now gripping the UK, car parks were seen empty and train stations and carriages were deserted as commuters avoided busy areas in rush hours around the country.

The mass stayaway came a day after the Prime Minister announced a step-change in official advice and said anyone who developed a new cough or a fever should isolate themselves at home for a week, regardless of how likely they thought it was that they had the virus.

Boris Johnson ramped up Number 10’s response to second phase of the Government’s coronavirus action plan but ministers refused to shut schools and delayed any rules banning large gatherings or international travel. 

One shopper was spotted wearing a full hazmat suit at a Somerset Tesco store amid the ongoing spread of novel coronavirus

The UK had 798 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, 11 people had died and more than 31,000 people were tested. (Figures accurate on Friday, March 13, 2020)

March 13, 2020: 40million Britons must catch coronavirus for herd immunity to work, says Chief Scientific Adviser 

READ THE FULL STORY HERE

The UK’s chief scientific adviser revealed that about 40million people could be left to catch the coronavirus as part of a controversial Government plan for the country to develop herd immunity.

Sir Patrick Vallance said around 60 per cent of the population would need to catch the virus to build up a national tolerance strong enough to stop the virus circulating.

His remarks sparked criticism and forced the Government to stress they were not adopting herd immunity as a policy. 

Chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, did not say how many people could die during the time this would take to work, but the then global death rate – around three per cent – suggested it could be 1.2million people in a worst-case scenario.

The Government aimed to control the speed of the UK’s epidemic and predicted the worst of it would come in around 12 weeks’ time – mid-June – suggesting it could taper off to levels similar to the then-current situation by September.

Sir Patrick Vallance said around 60 per cent of the population would need to catch the virus to build up a national tolerance strong enough to stop the virus circulating

March 13, 2020: BA boss tells his 45,000 staff the economic impact will be ‘more serious than the financial crisis, SARS or 9/11’ and warns of job losses

READ THE FULL STORY HERE

British Airways revealed coronavirus was threatening its very survival as staff were told there would be job cuts and aircrafts must be mothballed because of the ‘worsening’ worldwide pandemic.

Chief Executive Alex Cruz wrote to all 45,000 workers saying the virus’s relentless spread was a crisis ‘of global proportions like no other we have known’, more serious than the 2008 financial crash, SARS or 9/11.

He warned people would be put out of work and planes would be grounded ‘like we’ve never had to do before’ and urged: ‘Please do not underestimate the seriousness of this for our company’ in a message entitled ‘the survival of British Airways’.

A day earlier, Norwegian Air said it would lay off around half of its 11,000 staff and cancel 4,000 flights as it struggled to stay afloat – but BA had yet to say how many workers they would let go.

Mr Cruz claimed that BA, which along with Iberia and Aer Lingus is owned by the IAG Group, was more resilient ‘than ever before’ – but the airline was under ‘immense pressure’ and would ‘have to react fast and definitively in response to the worsening situation’, he said. 

The world’s airlines were ‘switching to survival mode’ as the travel industry buckled under the weight of the coronavirus outbreak – just eight days since the collapse of British regional carrier Flybe, which also blamed coronavirus for its demise.

BA’s Chief Executive, Alex Cruz, wrote to all 45,000 workers saying the virus’s relentless spread was a crisis ‘of global proportions like no other we have known’, more serious than the 2008 financial crash, SARS or 9/11

Heathrow Terminal 5, British Airways’ main home at the country’s biggest airport, remained quiet on March 13 last year

March 13, 2020: Dangerous list of Covid tips on social media – including claims that drinking water could wash out virus – are dismissed as ‘bogus’ by scientists

READ THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE

Scientists dismissed a dangerous list of coronavirus tips floating on social media as being ‘totally bogus’.

The list, shared on WhatsApp and other social networks, claimed to be information from an expert from Stanford Medicine – a claim the US university denied.

Its fake prevention tips included drinking water to wash the virus into the stomach, where it is wiped out by acid, and were described as ‘absolute b******s’ by an academic.

The post recommended people self-tested for Covid by attempting to hold their breath for 10 seconds without coughing, which was deemed ‘inaccurate’ by the British Government.

Social media giants worked to monitor misinformation which could be dangerous because it could lead to people ‘taking greater risks’ than if they were following official guidance.

Scientists dismissed a dangerous list of coronavirus tips floating on social media as being ‘totally bogus’

March 13, 2020: Local elections due to take place in May are postponed for a year over fears of Covid spreading at the polls

READ THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE

Following a recommendation by the Electoral Commission, the Government took the dramatic step of postponing the local elections for an entire year.

They had been due to take place on May 7 but were scrapped for fear of staff working at polling stations catching the disease. 

Elections were due to take place for 118 councils in England: 22 unitary authorities, 34 metropolitan boroughs and 62 non-metropolitan districts. 

Eight mayoral elections including in London, Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and Teesside were also scrapped for the year. 

It meant hundreds of councillors and mayors, including the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, had their terms of office extended for another 12 months.

The Government has given the green light for this year’s elections are due to go ahead on Thursday, May 6, with many opting to use postal voting. 

It meant hundreds of councillors and mayors, including the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, had their terms of office extended for another 12 months 

March 13, 2020: 70,000 racing fans pack into the Cheltenham Festival for the Gold Cup on Friday 13th as PM refuses to ban mass gatherings

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The Cheltenham Festival closed out a controversial few days with an estimated 70,000 spectators packing into the stadium for the Gold Cup. 

It was held under a shadow of doubt as many expected the Prime Minister to call an end to the festivities because of the accelerating spread of coronavirus.

That day football and rugby matches had been cancelled and the upcoming London Marathon had also been postponed to October.

But race course boss Ian Renton, speaking to 5 Live Sport, said organisers intended to push ahead with the fourth and final day. 

He said: ‘We have heard from the government that racing does continue in this country and that the festival will continue to its ultimatum.’

Princess Anne was among the royal guests, with her son Peter Phillips and his wife Autumn from whom he recently split.  

Huge swathes of racegoers were not put off by the coronavirus threat – as well as cool weather – and they donned their best clothes for the final day of Cheltenham

Racegoers arrive during day four of the Cheltenham Festival last year. An estimated 70,000 racegoers were estimated

March 13, 2020: Donald Trump declares a state of emergency across America at White House press conference  

READ THE ORIGINAL STORY HERE

President Trump used a press conference in the White House Rose Garden to declare a state of emergency in the face of rising coronavirus cases.

It allowed him to access $50billion of emergency funds, some of which he used for drive-thru testing centres in Walmart and CVS parking lots.

However he stressed that not everyone will be eligible to for tests and instead urged people to a website to check symptoms. 

‘We don’t want everybody taking this test. It’s totally unnecessary. This will pass. This will pass through,’ he said.

He was closely flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and a string of advisers, none of whom were wearing masks.

Trump also suggested he was considering adding the United Kingdom to his list of countries on the 30-day travel ban.  

State of emergency: Donald Trump announced a state of national emergency in the Rose Garden at a hastily organized press conference 

March 13, 2020: World Health Organisation warns Europe has become the ‘epicentre’ of coronavirus after overtaking China 

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Europe became the epicentre of the pandemic on this day after cases on the continent surpassed the peak of China’s outbreak.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Europe had ‘more reported virus cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China’.

He told reporters in Geneva: ‘Europe has now become the epicentre of the pandemic. More cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic.’ 

The claim was striking as Europe’s population is 740million, compared to China’s 1.4billion people.

The virus was first detected in Wuhan, and at the time there were doubts that China was providing accurate case numbers.

Tedros made his remarks on the same day global deaths passed 5,000, calling it a ‘tragic milestone’. 

Today there are more than 2.63million. 

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (pictured) said Europe was now the ‘epicentre’ of the crisis and was reporting more daily cases than China did at the height of the outbreak there

A map showing the latest number of cases across Europe, with Italy by far the worst affected. The small dots represent small nations such as Vatican City, San Marino and Andorra 

March 13, 2020: Catalonia goes into lockdown as Spain follows in footsteps of Italy by declaring national emergency

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Catalonia was plunged into a lockdown due to rising cases as Spanish authorities declared a state of emergency.

The President of the Generalitat, Quim Torra, ordered the total closure of Catalonia to stop the spread of the virus, which had infected 509 people. 

It meant the region’s 7.5million population were under a strict travel ban, with nobody able to enter or leave the region.  

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez confirmed a state of emergency during a press conference and said he would deploy the military to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Meanwhile measures paving the way for the shutdown of bars and restaurants in holiday hotspots such as Benidorm and Ibiza were brought in.

That day holidaymakers had packed into resorts, including Britons pictured poolside watching the Cheltenham Festival.   

Tourists wander through the streets of Benidorm just moments before the Spanish government announced a ‘state of emergency’

Sanitary personnel prepare to take care of a patient at the Igualada Hospital in Igualada, Barcelona, Spain, 13 March 2020 

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