Covid: One year on - how the pandemic slowly stole our normal

Is this a confirmed case? Hannah Bechelet reports on 28 January 2020.

By ITV Central Producer, Charlotte Horner

A quiet Tuesday afternoon in January in the ITV Central newsroom. 

Journalists casually scrolling through Twitter all spot the same image. It's ambulance staff in hazmat suits and masks.

But this isn't a film. This isn't a city called Wuhan, far away in China. This is Birmingham.

Everyone sits up a little straighter. The news editor picks up the phone.

On 28 January 2020 we didn't know what was coming. 

We didn't know that, although the man in that image was given the all clear, this would be the first time we spoke the word Coronavirus on air - and that we wouldn't stop for a year.

Last January nobody predicted the extent that Covid-19 would change the world. Credit: PA

Scientists told us it was "inevitable" the virus would make its way to the UK.

But many believed that due to the UK's "good surveillance and good health infrastructures" people who became ill would be isolated very quickly, the virus would be contained, and the spread would be stopped.

That turned out to be wrong.

Here's how the pandemic, and our new normal, stealthily took hold...

Professor Jonathan Ball speaking back in January 2020.

28th January 2020: First suspected case of coronavirus in the Midlands

Drew Bennett was the first person in the region suspected of having coronavirus, after returning from Wuhan, China, where the pandemic is said to have originated.

Medical staff turned up at his house in biochemical suits and took him into quarantine in hospital, where tests later showed he didn't have the virus.

Drew was told that if his result had came back positive everything he'd touched would have to be burned.

Speaking to ITV News in February 2020 he described the experience as "surreal" and "frightening".

30th January 2020: World Health Organisation declares a public health emergency of international concern

People start to panic about loved ones who are overseas, especially those in China.

Tina Walford's daughter, Vicky, is a biomedical scientist and was working in Wuhan at the time.

Speaking to us recently, looking back to last year, Tina describes the situation as "total dystopia".

31st January 2020: First cases of coronavirus confirmed in the UK

There are now 2 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, both patients are being treated in Newcastle.

A special facility is set up in the Wirral to quarantine British nationals returning from Wuhan.

3rd February 2020: Some students told to self-isolate and the Chinese community suffers unwarranted abuse

A group of students from Derby University are the first to be told to self-isolate. It's a term that soon becomes very familiar to the student population.

The students had returned to the UK from China before all flights from the country were banned.

June Hughes from Derby University, speaking in February 2020:

Meanwhile, Chinese communities begin to report an increase in coronavirus related abuse.

There are reports of bullying among school children and elderly people being shouted at in the streets.

The Chinese community says it was a difficult time, with many people putting blame on them for the pandemic.

6th February 2020: Concerns grow for those trapped abroad

As travel restrictions continue to be discussed by the government as a way to halt the spread of the virus, concerns grow for those who are already abroad.

Northamptonshire couple, Sally and David Abel, had set off on the cruise of a lifetime for their 50th wedding anniversary.

Coronavirus meant they were left trapped aboard the Princess Diamond in Japan, unable to leave their cabin.

Their family's fears became reality when the couple later tested positive for coronavirus.

15th February 2020: First death in Europe

It's reported that the first coronavirus death outside Asia is in France.

Meanwhile, the two patients that were being treated in Newcastle are released from hospital.

26th February 2020: Some schools make the decision to close

Cases of coronavirus are rapidly rising in Italy and after a group of students return from a ski trip with "flu-like symptoms" Tudor Grange Academy in Birmingham is forced to closed.

It follows the closure of Burbage Primary School in Buxton after it confirmed a case of coronavirus in a parent who had returned from a holiday in Tenerife.

The ContinU Plus Academy in Kidderminster also closes after a staff member was in "close contact" with a family member who'd been on a trip to northern Italy.

And so does the Lime Academy Watergall in Peterborough.

Geoff Barton, from the Association of School and College Leaders, says it's important for schools to remember that just because someone has been abroad it doesn't mean they have the virus, it's about "very specific locations".

Professor Paul Cosford from Public Health England reassures people that schools should stay open and complications among children is "low risk."

27th February: First case of coronavirus is confirmed in the East Midlands

The first case of coronavirus in the East Midlands is confirmed in Buxton in Derbyshire.

It leads to the closure of a local GP practice.

The total number of cases in the UK now stands at 15.

3rd March 2020: GPs tell us they're being proactive - and extra safety measures are put in place for the Crufts dog show

There are now hundreds of cases of coronavirus in the UK and the government publishes its coronavirus action plan.

GPs advised people not to visit their surgeries if they had symptoms of coronavirus or if they'd travelled to certain countries. Credit: ITV News Central

Dr Abbas Tejani, a GP from Leicester, tells us they're being proactive and asking people to not come to the surgery if they have any symptoms.

People are also advised to stay at home if they've travelled to one of the countries where coronavirus cases are high.

Meanwhile organisers put extra safety measures in place at Birmingham's NEC ahead of the international dog show, Crufts.

4th March 2020: First cases confirmed in the West Midlands

The total number of positive cases in the UK jumps to almost 100.

A positive case of the virus is confirmed in Birmingham and 2 more cases are confirmed in Staffordshire.

5th March 2020: First covid death in the UK, businesses are struggling and Flybe collapses

The PM says it's "business as usual" for the country, after a woman in her 70s is the first in the UK to die after contracting the virus.

But businesses, especially those in the travel and tourism industry, are starting to feel the pressure of the pandemic.

The airline Flybe is one of the first to go under.

Elsewhere, contact tracing starts following the confirmed cases of the virus in the West Midlands.

Birmingham's Director of Public Health tells us that the risk of people in the city catching coronavirus is still "very low".

6th March 2020: Panic buying begins and a positive coronavirus case is confirmed in Nottingham

Shelves in supermarkets start to look bare as people begin to panic buy items such as pasta, tinned food and toilet roll.

The first positive case of the virus is confirmed in Nottingham.

The Director of Public Health for the city tells people they don't need to panic or be "overly anxious".

9th March 2020: First coronavirus case confirmed in Leicestershire

There are now over 300 cases of the virus in the UK and a 4th person, who was being treated in Wolverhampton, has died.

The first case of the virus is confirmed in Leicestershire and the government says it will do all it can to stop the spread.

10th March 2020: Concerns grow for travel and Cheltenham races go ahead

5 people in the UK have now died and cases near 400.

Experts say an "Italy-style lockdown can't be ruled out".

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty says the government is close to imposing a 7 day self-isolation on anyone with "even minor respiratory tract infections or a fever."

He says timing is key - if restrictions are put in place too early then people will "get fatigued".

In Cheltenham, extra safety measures are put in place so the races can go ahead.

10th March 2020: Nottingham Forest owner confirms he has coronavirus

Nottingham Forest majority owner, Evangelos Marinakis, revealed on social media that he is following the advice of doctors after contracting Coronavirus.

In his post Marinakis encouraged everyone to follow doctors orders. Credit: PA

The Greek businessman claimed in an Instagram post "the recent virus has visited me and I felt obliged to let the public know."

11th March 2020: Coronavirus testing centres start springing up and the Chancellor announces a £30 million budget boost

There are now over 450 reported cases of coronavirus in the UK.

The government ramps up its testing capacity and first 'drive through' testing centre is opened in Wolverhampton.

It means people there can be tested for the virus without visiting a hospital or GP surgery.

Numerous sites like it soon appear across the UK.

11th March 2020: WHO labels the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic and questions begin to rise over how the NHS will cope

The World Health Organisation label the coronavirus outbreak as a 'pandemic' for the first time.

Meanwhile some start to admit they have worries over how the NHS will cope if admissions were to get out of hand.

14th March 2020: More deaths and more travel restrictions

The number of positive cases in the UK leap from 798 to 1,140 in just 24 hours.

10 more people with coronavirus die in the UK, 3 of them are in the Midlands, bringing the total death toll to 21.

Jet2 cancels all flights to mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands for the next week with immediate effect, in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus.

18th March 2020: The government announces it plans to close schools

The death toll in the UK passes 100, as 32 more people die.

Following a Cobra meeting the government announces plans to close all schools.

Businesses continue to struggle and JCB and Toyota are among those that suspend production.

19th March 2020: Over 3000 cases and 144 deaths

In the past 24 hours, the UK has seen an increase of 643 new coronavirus cases - bringing the national total to 3,269.

The national death toll hits 144, 32 of which were in the Midlands.

The PM reassures people that the virus can be "sent packing" in the next 12 weeks.

Alison Mackenzie reports of no "big announcements of lockdowns or anything like that".

Scientists also reveal they are "close" to creating a test that can detect the virus in those without symptoms.

20th March 2020: Pubs, gyms, restaurants and cinemas are told to close

Almost 4000 people have tested positive for Covid-19 across the UK, an increase of 714 new cases from the same point the day before.

Boris Johnson announces all pubs, restaurants, cinemas and gyms across the UK will close.

The Prime Minister added that nightclubs, theatres, and leisure centres also fall under the same measures, but take away services can continue.

Following the Prime Minister's announcement earlier in the week, schools close from today.

Scientists warn that social distancing measures could be in place for at least a year and health professionals say they're doing what they can to prepare for the worst.

23rd March 2020: Boris Johnson announces a 3 week national lockdown

The Prime Minister announces a national lockdown, insisting that people should not leave their homes unless absolutely necessary.

But as we now know, the lockdowns and restrictions last much longer than a few weeks.