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Coronavirus timeline: How the pandemic unfolded

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Use our timeline to see how the global Covid-19 pandemic unfolded and the progress made since in fighting the disease.

2019

December

1: A man in his 70s, living in Wuhan, China, shows symptoms of the disease.

16: The first patient is hospitalised with coronavirus in Wuhan.

30: Samples from the patients are found to contain Sars coronavirus, and medical guidance is issued throughout the Wuhan region.

31: Wuhan health chiefs issue a warning of a possible pneumonia outbreak, with a cluster of 27 cases.

▶︎: Scotland- specific details

2020

January

1: The World Health Organisation sets up an incident management team to deal with the outbreak. The Huanan seafood market in Wuhan, thought to be the source of the disease, is closed.

9: The first death linked to the coronavirus is reported.

10: WHO issues a raft of technical advice for how countries can detect coronavirus.

12: China shares the genetic sequence of Covid-19.

Coronavirus in Scotland – track the spread in these charts and maps

13: A case of coronavirus is discovered in Thailand – the first outside of China.

22: North Korea closes its borders to foreign travel.

23: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all-but-essential travel to Wuhan.

24: Health bosses warn there is a risk of the disease spreading to the UK.

29: The US and Japan begin evacuating citizens from Wuhan. British Airways suspends flights to and from mainland China.

31. The UK’s first Covid case is confirmed.

 

February

11: The World Health Organisation names the virus Covid-19.

15: The first European Covid death is reported in France.

23: Four passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship test positive for Covid-19.

An ambulance believed to carry a Diamond Princess cruise ship passenger infected by the coronavirus leaves the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, Tokyo.
An ambulance believed to carry a Diamond Princess cruise ship passenger infected by the coronavirus leaves the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, Tokyo.

23: ▶︎ The first people in Scotland are tested for coronavirus.  Five people are examined after presenting with symptoms of the illness.

27:  The first case of coronavirus in Northern Ireland is detected.

28: The first British coronavirus patient dies on board the Diamond Princess cruise liner. Wales records its first case.

 

March

1: ▶︎ The first coronavirus case in Scotland is confirmed.

2: The UK government holds an emergency Cobra meeting to discuss the outbreak.

4: ▶︎ The first Covid case in NHS Grampian is confirmed.

Boris Johnson holds a daily coronavirus briefing from 10 Downing Street.
Boris Johnson holds a daily coronavirus briefing from 10 Downing Street.

5: The first UK coronavirus death is confirmed.

8: Italy is placed in a nationwide lockdown amid a rapidly rising number of coronavirus cases.

9: ▶︎ Two people test positive for the disease in Shetland.

11: WHO declares the virus a pandemic. The Bank of England cuts interest rates from 0.75% to 0.25% – the lowest in history.

12: Anyone with a new, continuous cough or fever is told to self-isolate for seven days.

13: ▶︎ The first Scottish patient with Covid-19 dies.

14: ▶︎ The first case of coronavirus is confirmed in the Highlands. Retailers ask shoppers to stop panic-buying.

Empty shelves in an Asda store in Chorley.
Empty shelves in an Asda store in Chorley.

16: UK government daily press briefings begin.

17: All non-essential travel outside the UK is “advised against”. Cineworld, Vue, Odeon and Picturehouse close all their UK cinemas.

18: The pound falls to its lowest level since 1985. The UK death toll hits 100. The BBC halts filming on show including Eastenders and River City.

19: ▶︎ Scottish schools and nurseries are ordered to close by the end of the week. Interest rates are again slashed by the Bank of England, this time to just 0.1%.

20: ▶︎ Pubs, restaurants, gyms and “other social venues” across the UK are ordered to shut. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces a furlough scheme, paying 80% of the wages for employees unable to work.

21: Practical and theory driving tests are put on hold.

22: ▶︎ First Minister Nicola Sturgeon begins hosting a daily media briefing. Filming stops on Coronation Street and Emmerdale.

24: A UK lockdown begins, with people told to stay at home unless they are buying food, exercising once per day or completing essential work they cannot do at home. UK mobile networks text all customers reminding them of the rules.

25: Prince Charles tests positive for Covid-19.

Hospital staff in London take part in the Clap for Carers initiative to applaud NHS workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
Hospital staff in London take part in the Clap for Carers initiative to applaud NHS workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

26: The first of many 8pm Clap For Carers is held. The UK death toll increases by 100 to 578, including 25 people from Scotland.

27: Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock test positive for Covid-19. Boris Johnson’s lead advisor, Dominic Cummings, travels 250 miles to Durham.

28: The UK death toll reaches 1,000.

30: ▶︎ Orkney records its first Covid-19 case. A six-month exemption for vehicle MOTs is granted.

31: ▶︎ The first coronavirus case is reported in the Western Isles. Until this point, it was the last remaining unaffected Scottish council area. More than 10,000 people across the UK are now in hospital with Covid-19.

April

1: ▶︎ More than 2,000 cases have now been confirmed in Scotland, with 76 hospital deaths.

2: Johns Hopkins University estimates one million people have been infected with coronavirus, as the global death toll reaches 50,000. The contactless payment limit increases from £30 to £45.

5: ▶︎ Chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood resigns after making two lockdown trips to her second home. Boris Johnson is admitted to hospital. The Queen makes a rare TV address saying the UK “will succeed” in the fight against the virus.

Catherine Calderwood, former Chief Medical Officer For Scotland, quit following a breach of coronavirus rules.
Catherine Calderwood, former Chief Medical Officer For Scotland, quit following a breach of coronavirus rules.

6: The UK death toll reaches 5,000, with more than 50,000 reported cases.

10: The global death toll passes 100,000.

12: Boris Johnson is discharged from hospital. The number of UK Covid deaths reaches 10,000.

16: Captain Tom Moore raises more than £25m for NHS Charities Together by completing laps of his garden, later being awarded a knighthood. The lockdown is extended by three weeks.

99-year-old war veteran Captain Tom Moore at his home in Bedfordshire, after completing 100 laps of his garden.
99-year-old war veteran Captain Tom Moore at his home in Bedfordshire, after completing 100 laps of his garden.

17: The UK furlough scheme is extended to the end of June.

19: ▶︎ Construction of the NHS Louisa Jordan, Glasgow, is completed. It opens the following day.

20: TV presenter Eamonn Holmes is warned by broadcast regulator Ofcom for “ill-judged” comments on This Morning suggesting a conspiracy linking 5G to Covid-19 was true.

22: The House of Commons hosts the first virtual Prime Minister’s Questions, with Dominic Raab standing in for Boris Johnson.

23: ▶︎ The Scottish Government publishes guidance for how to ease lockdown restrictions. Human trials for a coronavirus vaccine begin in Oxford.

Nurses make final preparations during the completion of the construction of the NHS Louisa Jordan hospital in Glasgow.
Nurses make final preparations during the completion of the construction of the NHS Louisa Jordan hospital in Glasgow.

24: You’ll Never Walk Alone, by Michael Ball and Captain Tom Moore, reaches number one.

25: The UK death toll reaches 20,000. ▶︎ The number of Scottish cases passes 10,000.

28: ▶︎ A £10m Spaces For People fund, encouraging active travel, is announced. A minute’s silence is held for key workers who have died from Covid-19.

30: Boris Johnson says the UK is “past the peak” of the outbreak, but warns of a second spike.

 

May

1: Social media firms begin removing accounts belonging to conspiracy theorist David Icke for posting misinformation linking the pandemic to 5G mobile networks.

3: ▶︎ An outbreak of 54 coronavirus cases is confirmed at Home Farm Care Home, Skye.

Ten people died at Home Farm care home on the Isle of Skye.
Ten people died following a coronavirus outbreak at Home Farm care home on the Isle of Skye.

6: ▶︎ The weekly number of registered deaths in Scotland decreases for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Across the UK, the death toll reaches 30,000.

7: ▶︎ The Scottish lockdown is extended another three weeks.

10: The UK government changes its coronavirus slogan from “Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives” to “Stay alert, control the virus, save lives” – but Scotland continues with the original message.

11: ▶︎ Scots are now allowed to leave the home for exercise more than once per day.

12: The UK death tolls hits 40,000. Rishi Sunak extends the furlough scheme to October and says around 25% of the national workforce are now signed up at a cost of £14 billion per month.

18: Anosmia – a loss or change to the senses of smell or taste – is named a symptom of Covid-19.

23: Dominic Cummings’ lockdown trip is revealed by The Guardian and Daily Mirror.

Dominic Cummings, senior aide to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, answers questions from the media.
Dominic Cummings, senior aide to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, answers questions from the media.

25: Mr Cummings gives a press conference in the Downing Street Rose Garden, saying he has no regrets for his actions.

26: Remdesevir, a drug which can aid Covid-19 recovery, is made available on the NHS. Douglas Ross resigns as a Scotland Office junior minister over the government’s handling of Dominic Cummings.

28: ▶︎ Scotland moves to phase one of a new route map, allowing people to meet another household and the reopening of some drive-thru outlets, garden centres and plant nurseries from midnight. The Test and Protect system goes live.

29: It is announced the furlough scheme will end in October, with employers also having to contribute to workers’ National Insurance and pension pots.

 

June

2: UK MPs move back to in-person voting only, while the UK government’s daily coronavirus briefings are scaled back to once per week.

7: ▶︎ Scotland records zero new deaths over a 24 hour period for the first time since March. Health and wellbeing visits to care homes resume.

8: UK Residents and visitors entering the UK from overseas are now required to self-isolate for 14 days.

18: Oxford University and AstraZeneca sign a deal for the manufacture of a potential coronavirus vaccine.

19: ▶︎ Scotland moves to the second phase of the coronavirus route map. This allows people who are shielding to meet others, those non-shielding to use another home’s toilet, and for some people to form an extended household.

22: ▶︎ Dental practices in Scotland can again see patients requiring urgent care. Face coverings are made mandatory on public transport.

23: ▶︎ John Swinney announces plans to reopen schools in August.

26: The UK government says travellers from certain countries will soon be exempt from a blanket 14-day self-isolation period.

29: ▶︎ Non-essential high street shops and retailers are allowed to reopen in Scotland. The UK’s first local lockdown is imposed in Leicester.

 

July

3: ▶︎ The five-mile travel restriction is relaxed, with self-catering accommodation and second homes able to trade again.

6: ▶︎ Beer gardens and outdoor hospitality reopen.

The Innes Bar in Innes Street, Inverness, was among the first to reopen with bar owner Craig MacLeod delighted to be open for business.
The Innes Bar in Innes Street, Inverness, was among the first to reopen with bar owner Craig MacLeod delighted to be open for business.

8: Rishi Sunak announces a six-month VAT cut to 5% for food, accommodation and attractions. The Eat Out To Help Out scheme is unveiled. Quarantine measures are lifted for 57 overseas destinations.

10: ▶︎ Indoor and outdoor household gatherings are permitted. The wearing of face coverings in shops becomes mandatory.

13: ▶︎ Shopping centres and dentists welcome customers once again. Non-Covid hospital patients are now allowed to have one designated visitor.

A man walks past an Eat Out To Help Out sign.
A man walks past an Eat Out To Help Out sign.

15: ▶︎ Pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, visitor attractions, cinemas and places of worship are given permission to reopen under phase3 of the route map. A ban on indoor marriages and civil partnerships is lifted. Scotland records its seventh consecutive day with no hospital Covid deaths.

17: ▶︎ People shielding are now allowed to visit holiday accommodation, outdoor markets and gardens.

20: Oxford University publishes the first findings of its coronavirus vaccine trials. The UK pre-orders 90 million doses of a potential Pfizer/ BioNtech vaccine.

22: After 18 weeks, fitness coach Joe Wicks hosts his final daily online PE session. Children under five become eligible for Covid testing.

26: Quarantine restrictions for Spain are reintroduced.

31: ▶︎ Development begins on a Scottish contact-tracing app.

 

August

1: ▶︎ The shielding scheme is paused in Scotland. Urquhart, Edinburgh and Stirling castles reopen for tourists.

3: The month-long Eat Out To Help Out scheme launches, offering 50% off meals with a maximum discount of £10, three days per week.

4: ▶︎ Scottish students receive their Higher grades – based on teacher estimates due to the cancellation of exams – but around one-quarter have been downgraded.

Keith McKenzie closes the door of The Grill in Aberdeen as lockdown restrictions are imposed.
Keith McKenzie closes the door of The Grill in Aberdeen as lockdown restrictions are imposed.

5: ▶︎ Local lockdown restrictions are imposed in Aberdeen following a rising number of cases linked to the city’s hospitality industry.

7: ITV announces popular reality show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! will be filmed in a ruined UK castle, rather than the Australian jungle.

8: ▶︎ Face coverings are now required in libraries, museums and places of worship. The Aberdeen Covid cluster expands to 101 cases, including two Aberdeen FC players.

11: ▶︎ Schools reopen full-time. Some football matches are postponed following rule breaches by Aberdeen and Celtic players. Downgraded exam results are reverted back to the teacher estimates.

12: ▶︎ The Aberdeen lockdown is extended.

14: ▶︎ It becomes mandatory for hospitality firms to collect track and trace details from customers. Background music is banned in bars.

24: ▶︎ Local lockdown measures in Aberdeen are relaxed.

25: ▶︎ Filming recommences on Scottish soap River City.

26: ▶︎ Two Covid deaths are recorded – the first since July 16.

Sport Aberdeen Chairman Tony Dawson prepares for the reopening of Get Active @ Jesmond, Bridge of Don, Aberdeen.
Sport Aberdeen Chairman Tony Dawson prepares for the reopening of Get Active @ Jesmond, Bridge of Don, Aberdeen.

28: ▶︎ Police Scotland is given powers to break up large house parties.

31: ▶︎ Gyms, swimming pools and indoor sports courts reopen. Face coverings are now mandatory in secondary schools.

 

September

1: ▶︎ Local restrictions are imposed in East Renfrewshire, Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire.

3: NHS Highland will take over ownership of Home Farm Care Home, Skye, following the deaths of 10 residents.

7: Eastenders and Hollyoaks return to TV following a filming break.

10: ▶︎ A ban on indoor household meetings is extended to Renfrewshire and East Dunbartonshire. The Protect Scotland app is launched, while outdoor gatherings are limited to six people from two households.

11: ▶︎ The local restrictions are extended to Lanarkshire.

15: ▶︎ Nicola Sturgeon suggests guising could be banned on Halloween.

18: ▶︎ St Andrews University students are asked to comply with a voluntary lockdown to prevent case numbers rising among students.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon views the new Covid-19 track and trace app on a phone at the Scottish Parliament.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon views the new Covid-19 track and trace app on a phone at the Scottish Parliament.

23: ▶︎ A national ban on household visits is imposed to help limit the spread of Covid.

25: ▶︎ A 10pm curfew for pubs is introduced, with extra police patrols introduced to ensure compliance.

28: ▶︎ University students are given permission to return home.

 

October

4: The total number of confirmed UK cases reaches 500,000. Cineworld says it will temporarily shut all UK branches following the postponement of James Bond blockbuster No Time To Die.

7: ▶︎ Temporary measures restricting hospitality, leisure and some outdoor activities are implemented. More than 1,000 new cases are recorded over the previous 24 hours. National 5 exams for 2021 are cancelled.

9: ▶︎ Pubs, bars and restaurants in the Central Belt begin a two-week closure.

10: ▶︎ Unused ice cubes are dumped outside the Scottish Parliament and on Union Street, Aberdeen, in protest against new limits on hospitality.

Staff from bars and restaurants threw ice on Union Street, Aberdeen.

18: ▶︎ Scotland Loves Local, a campaign to support small businesses, is launched.

19: ▶︎ Face coverings become mandatory in communal workplace areas, including corridors and social spaces.

21: ▶︎ The temporary restrictions announced on October 7 are extended.

29: ▶︎ A five-level Covid protection system is implemented.

30: ▶︎ Guidance is published, increasing the use of face coverings in schools.

 

November

5: The furlough scheme is extended to the end of March. England enters a four-week “circuit breaker” lockdown.

7: A mutated strain of Covid-19 is discovered in Denmark, thought to have spread from minks to humans.

9: Pfizer and BioNTech publish findings showing their Covid-19 vaccine is 90% effective.

12: ▶︎ An investigation is launched after Scotland football fans are seen jumping and cheering within The Draft Project, Aberdeen – against coronavirus rules.

Football fans in The Draft Project, Aberdeen.
Football fans in The Draft Project, Aberdeen.

13: ▶︎ Angus, Fife and Perth And Kinross are moved from Level 2 to 3.

16: The UK orders five million doses of a potential vaccine in development by biotechnology firm Moderna.

18: The four nations begin considering a temporary relaxation of rules over Christmas.

19: Researchers find arthritis drug tocilizumab may help Covid-19 patients. ▶︎ The Health Secretary sets out to Holyrood the priority groups for who will receive a vaccine first.

20: ▶︎ 11 council areas are moved to Level 4 restrictions. Those in the north and north-east remain in Levels 1 and 2. Cross-border non-essential travel between Scotland and England is made illegal.

21: ▶︎ Folk rock band Torridon perform at Inverness Ironworks to a crowd of 100 people – the first indoor concert since March. The Draft Project is banned from serving alcohol.

24: The four nations agree a five-day relaxation of Covid measures for Christmas.

29: A further deal with Moderna is signed by the UK Government, meaning it has now secured seven million doses from seven suppliers.

 

December

2: The Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine is authorised for use in the UK.

3: The number of UK Covid deaths reaches 60,000.

6: ▶︎ More than 100,000 Scots have now tested positive for coronavirus.

8: ▶︎ The 2021 Higher and Advanced Higher exam diets are cancelled and replaced with teacher assessments. Scotland’s vaccination programme begins. Margaret Keenan and William Shakespeare become the first UK residents to receive the vaccine.

Margaret Keenan, 90, is the first patient in the United Kingdom to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech covid-19 vaccine at University Hospital, Coventry, administered by nurse May Parsons.
Margaret Keenan, 90, is the first patient in the United Kingdom to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech covid-19 vaccine at University Hospital, Coventry, administered by nurse May Parsons.

10: Sky News presenter Kay Burley is taken off air for six months after breaching Covid rules while celebrating her 60th birthday.

11: ▶︎ The 11 council areas in Level 4 restrictions are downgraded to Level 3. The 14-day self-isolation period is reduced to 10.

12: ▶︎ The ban on hospitality background music is lifted.

14: The self-isolation period is reduced from 14 days to 10. ▶︎ The first Covid-19 vaccinations in care homes take place.

15: ▶︎ East Lothian, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire are moved to Level 3 measures, as nine cases of a new coronavirus strain are detected.

16: ▶︎ The number of Scottish Covid deaths passes 6,000.

19: ▶︎ The five-day period is cut to one day following outbreaks of a new strain of Covid.

23: Another new coronavirus variant, this time originating in South Africa, is detected in the UK. ▶︎ Nicola Sturgeon apologises after removing her face covering at a wake.

Covid vaccine in Scotland: Track the rollout progress with these charts

25: ▶︎ Covid-19 restrictions are eased for one day, allowing a maximum of eight people from three households to meet. Travel from Scotland to the rest of the UK for non-essential reasons is made illegal.

26: ▶︎ All of mainland Scotland is placed under Level 4 measures, with the islands under Level 3.

29: ▶︎ Health chiefs consider moving Shetland into Level 4 restrictions due to a rapidly-growing cluster of cases.

30: The Oxford/ AstraZeneca vaccine is approved for use.

 

2021

January

4: The roll-out of the Oxford  AstraZeneca vaccine is announced.

5: ▶︎ Mainland Scotland enters a new lockdown, only allowing people to leave their homes for essential reasons.

7: ▶︎ Medical staff reach the halfway point in vaccinating Scottish care home residents.

8: ▶︎ A new measure requiring people arriving in Scotland to provide proof of a negative Covid test is announced.

11: ▶︎All Scottish football below the Premiership and Championship is suspended.

15: ▶︎ Those arriving in Scotland from South America and Portugal are made to self-isolate for 10 days in response to a new Brazilian Covid-19 variant. The global death toll passes two million.

Family members of patients hospitalized with Covid-19 line up with empty oxygen tanks in an attempt to refill them, outside the Nitron da Amazonia company, in Manaus, Brazil.
Family members of patients hospitalised with Covid-19 line up with empty oxygen tanks in an attempt to refill them, outside the Nitron da Amazonia company, in Manaus, Brazil.

18: All air travel corridors into the UK are closed in the face of the new variant, requiring every visitor to quarantine on arrival. ▶︎ Army drafted in to help Scotland’s vaccine roll-out.

19: ▶︎ The Scottish lockdown is extended until “at least” mid-February, with schools remaining shut. Barra is placed under Level 4 restrictions following a growing outbreak.

22: ▶︎ Aberdeen man becomes first person in the city to be convicted in court for not wearing a face covering. 

25: A row breaks out between the UK and EU regarding access to AstraZeneca jabs produced in the UK.

27: The UK death toll passes 100,000.

28: ▶︎ Boris Johnson visits the Lighthouse Covid testing lab in Glasgow.

29: The next series of Britain’s Got Talent is postponed until 2022.

31: Captain Sir Tom Moore is admitted to hospital with Covid-19.

 

February

1: ▶︎ Nicola Sturgeon announces tougher quarantine rules for international travellers arriving in Scotland. Six asymptomatic testing centres open in the north-east. Restrictions are lifted entirely on the Isle of Man, following 20 days without any new cases.

2: ▶︎ Plans for a phased return to Scottish classrooms are outlined. Captain Sir Tom Moore dies aged 100.

10: ▶︎ More than one million Scots have now received their first Covid jab.

15: Quarantine requirements for international travellers are introduced.

16: ▶︎ The Scottish Government’s business rates relief scheme is extended.

17: A human challenge study, infecting young people in the UK with Covid to test vaccines and treatments, is announced.

19: ▶︎ Dental schools close to new admissions and say all students will have to repeat a year.

Youngsters arrive at Laurencekirk Primary for their first day back.

22: ▶︎ Nursery, P1-P3 pupils and some senior secondary students return to some face-to-face learning. Boris Johnson announced a four-step plan to remove English restrictions by June 21.

28: ▶︎ Six cases of a Brazilian Covid “variant of concern” are detected in the UK, including three in the north-east of Scotland. It is later revealed by The P&J that the cases were linked to Aberdeen energy services firm Bureau Veritas.

 

March

1: ▶︎ Care home residents are allowed two designated visitors once per week.

2: Measures are reintroduced on the Isle of Man following another Covid outbreak.

3: UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak extends the furlough scheme, amid a range of measures to ease economic recovery post-pandemic.

5: Cyprus says it will allow vaccinated UK travellers to enter its borders from May.

8: ▶︎ Rangers come under fire after large groups gather at Ibrox and George Square in Glasgow following the team’s league win.

Rangers fans celebrate their club winning the title.

9: ▶︎ Nicola Sturgeon announces some restrictions for meeting others outside are to be eased ahead of schedule.

15: Use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is paused in several EU countries over concerns it can cause blood clots. The WHO says there is no evidence linking the two.

16: ▶︎ A new Covid roadmap for Scotland is announced, with the Stay At Home rule to be lifted on April 2. Changes to restrictions for retail, garden centres, hospital and car showrooms were among those announced.

18: After further reassurance from the European Medicines Agency, use of the Oxtford-AstraZeneca vaccine resumes in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

19: Boris Johnson receives his first Covid jab.

23: ▶︎ It is announced the Western Isles will move into coronavirus Level 3, in line with Orkney and Shetland.

 

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