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One year since first coronavirus outbreak: 12 months of the pandemic in front pages

Courier front pages from a year of the coronavirus pandemic.
Courier front pages from a year of the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s been one year since the first major coronavirus outbreak took hold in China, sparking a pandemic which brought death, suffering and recession to countries across the globe.

We look back on a tragic year via some of our front pages from the last 12 months.

Travellers wear face masks as they line up at turnstiles at a train station in Nantong, eastern China, at the start of the coronavirus outbreak in January 2020.
Travellers wear face masks as they line up at turnstiles at a train station in Nantong, eastern China, at the start of the coronavirus outbreak in January 2020.


January 24 2020: The Courier’s first front page on coronavirus

Exactly a year ago coronavirus really began making its presence felt in the world, sending parts of the Chinese city of Wuhan into lockdown.

Come February the first cases were being reported in Europe.

Within weeks, our lives would change for good.

On January 24 2020 we led with this front page amid early fears that the deadly virus had arrived in Tayside.

The Courier’s first front page on the coronavirus pandemic on January 21 2020.

March 2 2020: First case in Scotland

Scotland’s first recorded Covid-19 case was on March 1. Just 10 days later, the World Health Organisation would declare the outbreak a fully-fledged global pandemic.

Hugs and handshakes were out as social distancing became the norm and health officials across the globe emphasised the importance of personal hygiene.

Factories struggled to meet demand for PPE as face masks became compulsory while distillers and brewers turned their attention from making booze to producing hand sanitiser.

The Courier’s front page on March 2 2020.

March 3 2020

March 3 2020

March 13 2020

On March 13, Scotland’s first coronavirus death was recorded and within days the NHS was placed on an “emergency footing”.

As the pandemic took hold across the globe, and more people succumbed to the deadly disease, leaders decided to act. Some, it has been argued, too late in the day.

As these front pages show, the signs of the lockdown to come were there early on.

March 13 2020.

March 18 2020

March 18 2020.

March 19 2020: Scotland’s schools close

On March 18 it was announced that Scotland’s schools would close due to the pandemic.

March 19 2020.

March 21 2020: Lockdown looms

The schools move was followed just days later by another bombshell announcement as Scotland and the rest of the UK went into full lockdown.

City centres became ghost towns, pubs were boarded up, Zoom calls replace gatherings with friends, and cinemas, theatres and football stadiums sat empty. Even the roads went quiet as people got on their bikes and put on their hiking boots for permitted daily exercises.

March 21 2020.

March 25 2020

The lockdown rules became legally enforceable as police were handed “unprecedented” new powers to issue fines.

March 25 2020.

April 6 2020: Scotland’s CMO resigns

On April 5, Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood resigned after making two trips to her second home in Fife during lockdown.

April 6 2020.

April 7 2020: PM in ICU

In the first week of April, Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who as recently as March had bragged of shaking the hands of hospital patients – was admitted to an intensive care unit suffering from coronavirus.

April 7 2020.

April 17 2020

April 17 2020.

May 5 2020: Tributes to local pandemic heroes

At the tragic early height of the pandemic, local people fell victim to Covid-19. Among the victims were brave carers Janet Livingston, Johanna Daniels and Karen Hutton.

May 6 2020.

May 6 2020

Concerns remained around Scotland’s testing capacity despite conversations around the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

May 29 2020.

June 19 2020: Summer’s false hope

While summer permitted an easing of restrictions in Scotland, life was not what it was. It was a summer of hill-walks, ‘staycations’, gardening, and frustrating barriers between families and friends.

Though declining case number and fewer deaths provided some hope of a better winter, it was not to last.

June 19 2020.

June 24 2020: Schools to reopen

The prevalence of Covid-19 was low enough in the community to permit the safe return of schools at the end of summer.

June 24 2020.

June 27 2020

Further positive signs emerged as Ninewells Hospital’s last coronavirus intensive care patient Prof Grant McIntyre was applauded out of the unit following an 86-day fight for his life.

June 27 2020.

June 29 2020

June 29 2020.

July 3 2020

As summer continued, a phased approach to leaving the toughest level of lockdown restrictions came into effect in Scotland.

July 3 2020.

August 5 2020: Exams backlash

In early August, the Scottish Government faced a huge backlash around its handling of exam results following the closure of schools.

The Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) came under fire after it emerged more than 133,000 results had been adjusted from teachers’ estimates – with children in the most-deprived areas the worst hit. A U-turn on the results ensued.

August 5 2020.

August 22 2020

As autumn crept in, Covid-19 remained a threat in the local area.

August 22 2020.

September 23 2020: Restrictions return

The bleak reality of the winter ahead set in as early as autumn as restrictions were brought back.

September 23: A Long and lonely winter awaits.
September 23: A Long and lonely winter awaits.

November 10 2020: Vaccine joy

Not long after a new “tiered system” to tackling the pandemic came into force in Scotland, one glimmer of light in a rapidly worsening situation came on November 9.

Just as Joe Biden’s victory in the US election looked to be cemented, the news of an effective Covid-19 vaccine emerged from Pfizer and BioNTech. The celebrations on the streets of the US seemed almost to capture the mood of a world in lockdown.

However, the joy of those early November days were quickly snuffed out by one of the toughest Decembers in living memory.

November 10 2020.

December 21 2020: Christmas cancelled

Just days before Christmas, festive holiday plans to ease restrictions for several days were thrown out in response to increased transmission of the virus and rising death numbers.

Christmas was cancelled, but the worst was yet to come.

December 21 2020.

January 5 2021: Lockdown 2

While Scots largely abided by the rules on Hogmanay, the emergence of a new strain of coronavirus shattered any hopes of a new dawn in 2021.

Scotland entered January with its border to England shut, and heavily policed, and the nation on the cusp of the second major lockdown in the space of a year.

Within days of 2021, schools were closed to all but a handful of pupils, with strict travel measures and a legally enforceable “stay at home” rule put in place.

While the vaccine roll-out programme brings us hope of a return to normality later in 2021, much remains unknown about the new strains of coronavirus which are emerging.

One year on from the events in Wuhan, the future remains uncertain.

January 5 2021.

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