What does the corona-stricken UK look like to the rest of the world now?
Every time I talk to my parents and friends in Japan and to the Filipino teachers of my online English lessons, I get asked;
The number of patients is supposed to be tremendous and England has been locked down many times, right? What kind of life do you have?
I heard that the COVID-19 virus has mutated in the UK and become more contagious. Are you okay?
Have you been vaccinated yet?
I don’t know how the situation is reported in each country, but it seems that the common understanding everywhere is that “it’s just going to be terrible.” I can’t give an honest answer to the question of whether it’s it ‘okay’ to live in this country – or more precisely, “nobody knows“.
However, I feel that my senses are getting paralyzed because the situation keeps changing so quickly. Therefore, I decided to summarize the series of events that have occurred in the UK regarding COVID-19.
In this article, I will look back on the year from January 2020 to December 2020 and tell you what the actual situation was in the UK, focusing on the key events.
Data such as the number of deaths are obtained from UK-GOV (UK government website), and items not listed there are written as “N/A” because the exact numbers are unknown.
Dates are written in the UK format – dd/mm/yyyy
- 30.1.2020 First confirmed COVID-19 patient in the UK
- 28.2.2020 A passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan becomes the first British person to die from the virus
- 13.3.2020 Government bans mass gatherings
- 23.3.2020 The UK lockdown comes into effect
- 8.4.2020 The daily death toll passed 1,000 for the first time
- 27.4.2020 Prime Minister makes his first televised speech after discharge from hospital
30.1.2020 First confirmed COVID-19 patient in the UK
Total deaths: N/A / Daily deaths: N/A / Daily cases: 2
The first cases of COVID-19 in the UK were confirmed in York, a city in northern England. It was said that they were two members of a Chinese family. Shortly before this, the UK government had restricted access to China.
COVID-19 is still a “distant event” in the UK in January, and I never dreamed that the virus would have a disaster-scale impact on the country and kill so many people.
28.2.2020 A passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan becomes the first British person to die from the virus
Total deaths: 1 / Daily deaths: 1 / Daily cases: 12
It was early February when I began to hear the news that a new virus had begun to spread in Wuhan, China, and that the infection was beginning to cross national borders. That was also when I received information that the virus had spread rapidly aboard the British luxury cruise ship “Diamond Princess” which was anchored in Japan.
The shocking news that nearly 20% of the nearly 4,000 passengers and crew were infected – was constantly reported on BBC News. The deceased British man is said to be the first UK citizen to die of COVID-19.
13.3.2020 Government bans mass gatherings
Total deaths: 54/ Daily deaths: 16 / Daily cases: 481
Italy was the first place in Europe where COVID-19 began to spread, and at that time the people of the UK still thought of it as “happening to somebody else”; but as the number of deaths increased here, the government had no choice but to tighten regulations.
Around this time, the perception that “COVID-19 = China” was commonplace, and this led to increased prejudice and hostility towards Asians. This came to a head when an Asian man from Singapore was beaten by a group of four people in Oxford Street in central London on 24th February. I remember that, as an Asian myself, this incident made me reluctant to utilize public transport such as trains and buses.
23.3.2020 The UK lockdown comes into effect
Total deaths: 939 / Daily deaths: 186 / Daily cases: 2,326
Following the lead of other European countries, the lockdown has finally begun in the UK. All places of public congregation, including stores, schools, restaurants [apart from take-away service], cafes and pubs, were forced to close except for the sale of essential products like food and medicine.
Just moments before the lockdown began, “panic buying” also started. Tinned food, pasta, and toilet paper disappeared from the shelves. At this time, I felt like I was in a movie, but when I saw for myself the closed pubs, restaurants, and the empty supermarket shelves, I started to become anxious.
Despite the introduction of the lockdown, there was an immediate explosion in the number of new cases.
It was also at this time that my husband started working from home. Later I heard that quite a few Japanese mothers and children living in the UK temporarily returned to Japan to minimize the risk of their getting this virus.
8.4.2020 The daily death toll passed 1,000 for the first time
Total deaths: 11,619 / Daily deaths: 1,073 / Daily cases: 5,123
The deaths resulting from COVID-19 per day exceeded 1,000 for the first time. Most of the dead were elderly, and the overwhelming majority of them died either at home or in facilities such as nursing homes – not in hospital.
At first, the life under the restrictions was just confusing. But as I gradually got used to lockdown conditions, the stress caused by the inconvenience began to accumulate.
The UK government was trying its best to get as many people as possible tested in order to slow down the spread of the virus, but their efforts seemed to be proving ineffective.
It was then that we received the shocking news that British Prime Minister himself, Boris Johnson, had been infected with COVID-19 and was quarantined.
27.4.2020 Prime Minister makes his first televised speech after discharge from hospital
Total deaths: 26,801 / Daily deaths: 595 / Daily cases: 4,705
After four days of treatment in an ICU (Intensive Care Unit), Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a televised speech to the British people. He said that the number of hospitalized patients is gradually decreasing due to the effect of the lockdown, but the situation is still critical – and unpredictable.
Around this time, doctors and nurses working at the United Kingdom National Health Service (NHS) were praised as heroes, and a campaign was launched to increase support for them as much as possible.