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2020 means you have perfect vision but I doubt that anyone could see what was coming in this year. Let's look at things in order but there is really only one story.

On 31 January 2020, after 47 years and 1 month, we left the European Union. We'd voted to do so in 2016 and now it happened. Except it didn't. Not quite. It was agreed there would be an eleven month period, until the end of 2020, where the United Kingdom and the European Union would sort out their future relationship which, eventually, at the very last moment, they did. However it will be next year, 2021, when we discover how good that sorting out was. Watch this space.

But the biggest threat to England, the biggest threat to the world, began just after we left the EU. A new virus, called COVID-19, began to spread around the world. No one seems able to definitely say when the first case in England was but by the 12 of March there were 590 cases and had been a couple of deaths. By the end of March the government had introduced a lock-down. People should work from home if they could, all entertainment venues were closed and schools were too except for children of key workers and vulnerable pupils. On-line learning was in.

You can look up most of the facts so I will keep this page just as a summary. By the summer lock-down had been lifted, we were encourage to eat out, in September schools returned and by November we were in lock-down again although schools stayed open. This lock-down ended in December and the country moved into a tier system where different areas had different restrictions, However the disease was still spreading and you can find out next year what happened at the start of 2021.

I need to point out that this is not the first, and nor will it be the last, pandemic (a pandemic is really just a disease that happens worldwide or, in some cases, countrywide) that people will suffer. You know about the Black Death and various outbreaks of the plague which happened in olden times. In 1918/19 there was also an outbreak of a flu-like illness and this was known as Spanish flu. 228,000 people in the UK died from this, about two and a half times as many as had died from COVID at the end of 2020. The population of the UK was about 40 million then and it is about 68 million now. So Spanish flu killed 0.57% of the population, to date COVID has killed 0.13% of our population. At work people wore masks then.

The big difference between now and then is publicity, technology and the growth of the media. Record keeping in 1919 was on paper, it would be difficult to readily know there figures. The media was just newspapers, there wasn't even radio. People were not so aware at the time as to what was happening. Now we are fed daily figures and how many cases, how many deaths, how many people in hospital. It's also true that there are far more elderly people now and they are more vulnerable to illness.

In 1957, in my lifetime, there was another outbreak, this time called Asian flu. This resulted in about 33,000 deaths. All my family caught it although my father, sister and I were only ill for about a week. My mother, however, was in bed for a month having also contracted pneumonia. She was seriously ill but a vaccine was developed and the pandemic disappeared in time.

It came back in 1968-9 as Hong Kong flu but I actually don't remember this although I am sure, again, there was a vaccine. Other illnesses sparked panic in my lifetime. In the 1950s we all had vaccination against polio and in the early 1960s there was a small pox scare and again everyone rushed for a vaccine. There is hope that a vaccine for COVID will be available in early 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic in England has caused more financial problems than any other ones did. It consumed national attention throughout the year and has, without a doubt, affected the lives of almost everyone in the country in some way or another but a pandemic such as COVID is not new. The country has survived before and will survive again although that it is not to say the loss of lives is not a personal tragedy for those affected.

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