Atherstone and North Warwickshire may have lost an hour's sleep, but we mustn't lose any time in bringing coronavirus to a full stop

By Nick Hudson

29th Mar 2020 | Opinion

Time flies: But all around seems to be standing still as the Covid-19 outbreak gathers frightening pace
Time flies: But all around seems to be standing still as the Covid-19 outbreak gathers frightening pace

NOTHING of note occurred in global history on November 17 to come anywhere remotely close to challenging the significance of a 55-year-old man being identified as the first confirmed case of coronavirus on that date last year.

The disease is believed to have been traced to a seafood "wet" market where living wild animals are sold for meat in Wuhan, a city in the Chinese province of Hubei.

Now, 133 days later, the virus – officially renamed Covid-19 last month – has spread across the globe at a terrifying rate.

It hardly seems possible but the first case identified in the UK was at the end of January and the virus claimed its first victim in this country – a woman in her 70s who died in Reading – just 24 days ago. Yesterday the Government reported the death toll passed 1,000.

No respecter of person, among those testing positive for the virus are the Prince of Wales and the Prime Minister.

It's been the maddest week of our lives . Was it only on Monday we were told we would only be allowed to leave our homes for limited reasons, including shopping for food, exercise once a day, medical needs or travelling for work if absolutely necessary?

At the same time shops selling non-essential goods had to close, gatherings of more than two people in public banned, and all "joyous" events including weddings cancelled.

This Sunday in Atherstone and North Warwickshire we awoke, like the rest of the UK, with an hour's less sleep – having allowed ourselves to accept a 23-hour day in the traditional "spring forward".

Perhaps we took advantage of a dire situation – our almost 'house arrest' which according to all reports is set to get worse when Boris Johnson writes to every household next week warning of stricter 'leaving home' measures to combat Covid-19 – and stayed under the duvet an extra 60 minutes, or more.

We often say "how time flies" – from the Latin phrase 'tempus fugit' – as one month rolls effortlessly into the next and once the kids are back at school after the summer holidays, the Christmas lights and decorations are seemingly up – and then down again.

Well, forgive me, but all around us seems to be standing still at the moment and the only thing that's gathering speed is the grim total of confirmed virus cases – up more than 60,000 globally in the last 24 hours to 677,648 – with 31,000+ deaths.

Now the race is on to protect frontline workers; start testing on what will need to be a global scale; find a drug that helps treat those unlucky enough to catch it while talk of a vaccine is still "18 months away".

However tough it seems, staying at home – for most of the day – seems our only surefire defence at the moment in preventing more people falling prey to it.

How can we help?

Atherstone Nub News is here to inform – currently almost exclusively on, or the effects of, coronavirus.

We hope to bring the good things happening in your community – like defiant pensioner John Gisbourne dealing with being cooped up in his flat and the herculean efforts of Grendon baker David Gayton as he moves heaven and earth to keep us stocked in bread.

All of us will adopt different coping strategies and be presented with a differing scale of challenges to "do our bit" in these troubled times, the like of which most have not witnessed.

I'm afraid they'll be some downright bad news, too. It's there to inform, and by way of warning that we're all in this together – and must act responsibly to Government advice.

Below, we bring you a whistle-stop timeline guide of the last 133 days of our lives – every one of them where coronavirus was first creeping, then racing into full, devastating view.

Here in Atherstone and North Warwickshire it may seem we are a small and insignificant part of an entity that is Planet Earth – but we all have a GIANT part to play in this.

The Covid-19 outbreak clock is ticking – currently faster than any of us would like.

Let's make sure we keep up the fight to slow down this abomination with #StayHomeSaveLives until science can bring it to a full stop and we can say #WhenCoronaVirusIsOver.


2019: November 17- The first case of coronavirus is identified in the city of Wuhan in the province of Hubei, China.

It is believed the disease may have stemmed from a "wet" market, where living wild animals are sold for meat.

January 21 - Coronavirus starts to hit the UK news headlines as the number of infections grow in China.

January 25 - The British authorities begin to get nervous about the threat, and health officials team up with Border Force agents to track down 2,000 people who have recently flown to the UK from Hubei province.

January 29 - Britons returning from coronavirus-hit Wuhan in China are told they will be put in quarantine for 14 days.

January 30 - The coronavirus outbreak is declared an international public health emergency by the World Health Organisation.

January 31 – First cases reported in UK. Two members of the same family test positive for coronavirus in England and are treated at the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

More than 80 Britons are evacuated from Wuhan by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and are placed in quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral.

February 2 - The UK Government pays for a nationwide ad campaign urging the public to wash their hands thoroughly and use tissues to help contain the spread of the disease.

Meanwhile, 11 more Britons evacuated from China touch down in the UK and are sent to Arrowe Park. February 3 - The Government announces £20 million funding for vaccine research. February 4 - The Diamond Princess cruise ship is quarantined off the coast of Japan with 3,700 people on board including more than 100 British citizens due to a coronavirus outbreak. Meanwhile, Britons in mainland China are told to leave if they can by the Foreign Office. February 5 - Hospitals are told to create emergency assessment pods for coronavirus. February 6 - A third person in the UK tests positive for coronavirus after contracting it in Singapore and is treated at Guy's and St Thomas's Hospital in London. February 8 - Five Britons test positive for coronavirus in France after coming into contact with the third case to be diagnosed at a ski resort. February 9 - A final UK Government chartered flight bringing around 150 British nationals back from coronavirus-hit Wuhan touches down and the passengers are quarantined at a facility in Milton Keynes. February 10 – Confirmed cases in UK rise to eight as the Government declares coronavirus a "serious and imminent threat to public health" and gives itself powers to forcibly quarantine people. February 11 – Coronavirus is officially named Covid-19. February 22 - A repatriation flight carrying 32 British and European evacuees from the Diamond Princess touches down - and passengers are taken to Arrowe Park Hospital to be quarantined. February 27 - The first case of coronavirus is recorded in Northern Ireland. February 28 - The first case of coronavirus is reported in Wales. A British man previously quarantined on the Diamond Princess becomes the first UK citizen to die from Covid-19. February 29 - The first case of coronavirus is confirmed in the Republic of Ireland. March 2 - Scotland confirms its first case of coronavirus. March 3 - The Government unveils a national plan to tackle coronavirus, including contingency plans to help polce if they lose "significant numbers" to the illness. It predicts that in a "stretching scenario", it is possible that up to one fifth of employees may be absent from work during peak weeks. March 5 - First patient dies in the UK as cases reach 90. The patient, in her 70s, died in the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading. A second person, a man in his 80s, dies the following day. March 7 - Cases top 200 in the UK. March 11 - The Covid-19 outbreak is declared a pandemic by the WHO. March 12 - The EU and UK scrap face-to-face talks on a post-Brexit trade deal due to the risk posed by coronavirus as thousands of people are believed to be infected with the virus in Britain. March 13 - European countries including Austria, Portugal, France, Denmark and Norway begin to ban public gatherings and close schools as the death toll mounts. The first Coronavirus patient dies in Scotland. Top-level football competitions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are suspended. March 14 - A newborn baby tests positive for coronavirus in London. March 15 - Number 10 announces daily press briefings on the progress of the pandemic. The Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to more than 30 countries March 16 - A patient in their 60s becomes the first death in Wales. Scientists at Imperial College warn the Government that around 250,000 people will die in Britain unless stricter measures are adopted to protect the population. March 17 – Big day as Parliament stops all non-essential public access as public worship suspended by the Church of England; Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveils a £330 billion package to help businesses; and schools, nurseries and colleges are told they must close their doors from the end of the day on March 20 until further notice. March 19 - The Queen moves to Windsor Castle early to start Easter court, and is likely to remain there for the duration of the pandemic as Boris Johnson is claiming the tide can be turned on coronavirus within 12 weeks. March 20 – Another momentous day in British history as Boris Johnson orders pubs and restaurants across the country to close. At the same time Rishi Sunak announces a multi-billion pound package of measures to prevent mass layoffs and improve the welfare system. March 23 – A form of lockdown begins as UK public is told that from this evening they will only be allowed to leave their homes for limited reasons, including shopping for food, exercise once per day, medical need and travelling for work when absolutely necessary. All shops selling non-essential goods are told to close, gatherings of more than two people in public are banned, all events including weddings but excluding funerals are cancelled. Jury trials in England and Wales are put on hold to curb coronavirus. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tells Britons travelling abroad to return home while they still can. March 24 - A new scheme is launched to recruit volunteers to help the NHS – initially the target is 250,000 but more than half a million apply in just two days. A new field hospital called the Nightingale Hospital with a capacity of 4,000 is being prepared at the EXcel Centre, Health Secretary Matt Hancock reveals. March 25 - The Prince of Wales tests positive for coronavirus but is displaying only "mild symptoms", Clarence House says. Sweeping emergency powers to tackle the coronavirus are set to become law after clearing the House of Lords without amendment. March 26 - An 84-year-old man becomes the first inmate to die in prison of Covid-19. The UK becomes the largest single contributor in the search for a coronavirus vaccine, pledging £210 million in aid funding. A support package for the self-employed is announced – covering an average of 80 per cent of earnings over the last three years. March 27 - Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock test positive for Covid-19, while chief medical officer Chris Whitty says he is self-isolating. March 28 - UK deaths from coronavirus reach 1,019 – an increase of 260 in 24 hours. The number of infections reaches an estimated 600,000 world-wide. March 29 – Italy mourns more than 10,000 dead from the virus.


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