Yesterday (Friday) was one year to the day since the first confirmed case of Covid-19 in the UK, setting in motion an unimaginable chain of events. Here is the story so far of the pandemic in Gloucestershire.
At the end of February a Cotswolds resident became the first person in the county to test positive for the virus after travelling back from Northern Italy.
With most sport being suspended in March, the decision to allow the Cheltenham Festival to take place caused controversy.
The first case in Stroud was confirmed on Monday, March 16. One week later the country was plunged into lockdown and the first coronavirus-linked death at a Gloucestershire hospital soon followed.
As the number of people in hospital continued to rise and PPE shortages became apparent, an army of volunteers helped sew scrubs for the NHS.
There was also controversy over the awarding of PPE contracts, with a former Stroud councillor denying any favouritism had been shown towards his company after it was awarded contracts worth hundreds of millions of pounds.
Restrictions were relaxed during the summer, with non-essential shops and later pubs permitted to re-open for the first time in months. The Eat Out to Help Out scheme was launched, with dozens of restaurants offering discounted meals.
As cases started to rise once more, restrictions were tightened. A 10pm pub curfew was described as a ‘crushing blow’ by landlords.
With care homes badly affected by Covid, we launched our Gloucestershire Care Heroes competition to pay tribute the amazing work carers have done.
A new tier system was introduced in October in an attempt to curb the rise in cases. By the end of December Gloucestershire had progressed from Tier 1 to Tier 4, via a second one-month lockdown.
A third lockdown started in early January, with schools closing again. Recently Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie called for schools to re-open after February half term.
In December the first Covid-19 vaccinations were administered. Earlier this month it was revealed that a higher percentage of over 80s has been given the first dose of the vaccine in Gloucestershire than anywhere else in the country.
But just as there had been lockdown protests, anti-vaxxers also made their feelings known. Earlier this month we made the decision to stop publishing letters arguing against having the Covid vaccine.
More than seven million Covid vaccinations have taken place in England so far. As of January 24, 77,817 people in Gloucestershire had been given a first dose of the vaccine. This equates to 12 per cent of the county’s population, while 91 per cent of over 80s have been given the jab.
Sadly, more than 100,000 people have now died with Covid-19 in the UK.
Latest data for Gloucestershire shows that there have been 942 deaths since the start of the pandemic where the death certificate mentioned Covid-19 as one of the causes.