Today (January 29) marks exactly two years since the Covid-19 The pandemic was first officially discovered on British shores.
The virus has completely dominated our lives for the past 24 months.
Not only have many of us lost loved ones or had to watch our friends and family suffer from afar, but we have also had to deal with the personal challenges brought on by multiple lockdowns and a near-constant national focus on death and disease. .
So, as the UK marks this grim milestone, we’ve taken a look at how the Covid-19 pandemic began in the UK.
How did the Covid pandemic reach the UK?
The first official case of Covid-19 was recorded in the UK on January 29, 2020.
By this point, Covid had become a growing presence in the national conversation as images emerged of empty streets in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which entered a strict lockdown on January 23.
However, the news was still dominated by Brexit and Prince Andrew (some things never change).
The first British patient, whose identity is still unknown, was a Chinese woman from Hubei province who had visited her son, a student at York University.
She fell ill on January 26, just two days after then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock told reporters the risk to the UK was low.
On January 29, the woman and her son were suffering from a fever and a dry cough.
The son called NHS 111 and that evening two paramedics arrived at their hotel in hazmat suits to take the couple to hospital in Hull.
The following day, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the pandemic a global emergency and the UK raised its risk level to moderate.
Tests carried out at the Public Health England laboratory in Colindale, London, confirmed the pair had Covid-19, with the results announced to the general public on January 31.
The mother and son were also transferred to a specialist unit in Newcastle on January 31 and remained there until their recovery on February 17.
At this point, the track and trace system had not found any other cases linked to the pair.
How did the UK react?
Despite the announcement of the arrival of the virus on January 31, it was a day completely dominated by Brexit.
On this date, the UK left many EU institutions and entered a period of transition.
It was a day that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was probably hoping to come and define his job as Prime Minister – and maybe he did, but not in the way he might have expected.
It wasn’t until February 26 that most of the front pages were dominated by Covid.
At this point, cases were rising in Italy and the scientific advisory group Sage recommended school closures to curb transmission.
There had been 80,000 officially recorded cases worldwide and 2,700 deaths.
On that date, Matt Hancock told MPs in the House of Commons that the government’s plan was: “Contain. Delay. Research and Mitigation”.
“If someone has been in contact with a suspected case in a daycare or educational setting, no special action is required pending test results,” he said.
“There is no need to close the school or send other students or staff home.”
Mr Hancock also advised people to ‘take reasonable precautions’ such as ‘use tissues’ and increase the frequency of hand washing.
Just under a month later, the UK entered a nationwide lockdown from which it would not emerge until June.