It was on New Year’s Eve 2019 that the World Health Organisation’s China office first heard reports of a new virus sparking a rise in cases of pneumonia in the city of Wuhan.
At that point, merely three months ago, ‘coronavirus’ was a word most people didn’t know existed.
Since then it has dominated news bulletins daily, becoming a global pandemic, triggering terms that none of us had previously used – social distancing, self-isolation. Rationing by major retail chains has gone from a wartime practice to everyday reality as shoppers panic buy and stockpile.
For thousands of workers, the daily commute has changed from jostling on trains and buses to a short walk from our beds to the sofa or dining room table. Then, celebrating the end of a long day in the office, or at home, with a trip to the local pub has been condemned by Boris Johnson as something that could put ourselves and society’s most vulnerable people at risk.
There is no precedent for any of this, and we have been told by health secretary Matt Hancock “this is a marathon, not a sprint.” Just how long that marathon lasts is anybody’s guess.
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