COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom

COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom
Thank you NHS sign in Leeds
NHS Nightingale Hospital in London
Movement restrictions Sign at a Welsh county border
Deserted A1 road near Newry
Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine deployed from late 2020
(clockwise from top)
DiseaseCOVID-19
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
LocationUnited Kingdom
First outbreakWuhan, China
Index caseYork, North Yorkshire
Arrival date31 January 2020
(1 year, 1 month and 1 week ago)[1]
Confirmed cases
  • 4,105,675 (total)[2]
  • 78,570 (last 7 days)[2]
Hospitalised cases
  • 18,462 (active)[2]
  • 430,807 (total)[2]
Ventilator cases2,469 (active)[2]
Deaths
  • 120,365 (deaths within 28 days of a positive test)[nb 1][2][3]
  • 140,281 (death certificate)[2]
Fatality rate2.93%
Government website
UK Government[nb 2]
Scottish Government
Welsh Government
Northern Ireland Department of Health

The COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The virus reached the UK in late January 2020. As of 25 February 2021, there have been 4,154,562 confirmed cases[nb 3] and 122,070 deaths – the world's fourth-highest death rate by population[4][5] and the highest death toll in Europe.[6] There were 140,281 deaths where the death certificate mentioned COVID by 19 February 2021 (see Statistics).[7][8] There has been some disparity between the outbreak's severity in each of the four countries. Health in the UK is devolved, with England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each having their own publicly-funded healthcare systems and governments.[9][10][11]

In February and early March 2020, COVID became a "notifiable disease" in the UK[12][13][14] and testing of suspected cases began,[15] including drive-through screening at hospitals. A public health information campaign was launched to help slow the virus's spread,[16] and the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, introduced the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 for England. The Chief Medical Officer for England, Chris Whitty, outlined a four-pronged strategy to tackle the outbreak: contain, delay, research and mitigate.

On 23 March 2020, the UK went into lockdown. The governments imposed a stay-at-home order banning all non-essential travel and contact with other people, and shut almost all schools, businesses and gathering places. Those with symptoms, and their households, were told to self-isolate, while those with certain illnesses were told to shield themselves.[17] People were told to keep apart in public. Police were empowered to enforce the measures, and the Coronavirus Act 2020 gave all four governments emergency powers[18] not used since the Second World War.[19][20] However, the governments did not initially impose a ban or quarantine on incoming travellers.[21] The Chancellor of the Exchequer forecast that lengthy restrictions would severely damage the economy.[22] Lockdown was also forecast to worsen mental health and suicide rates,[23] and cause additional deaths due to isolation, delays and falling living standards.

The health services worked to raise hospital capacity and set up temporary critical care hospitals. By mid-April it was reported that social distancing had "flattened the curve" of the epidemic.[24] In late April, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK had passed the peak of its outbreak.[25] Daily cases and deaths fell in MayJune, and stayed at low levels over the summer. The lockdown was gradually eased in June–July, while schools remained closed for summer break. The total number of excess deaths from the start of the outbreak to mid-June was just over 65,000.[26]

Most schools re-opened by early September and remained open. Cases rose significantly that month, and local restrictions were gradually re-imposed in all four countries. In England, tiered restrictions were introduced in October, the country went into a month-long lockdown (excluding schools) during November, and new tiered restrictions were introduced in December.[27] Scotland also introduced tiered restrictions in October.[28] Meanwhile, 'circuit-breaker' lockdowns were imposed in Wales[29] for three weeks, and in Northern Ireland[30] for eight weeks (with a one-week easing). Schools were not included in these lockdowns.

In December, a new COVID variant was blamed for a rise in cases in southeast England[31] and led to more countries banning travel from the UK.[32] Following a brief easing of restrictions for Christmas, all of the UK went into another full lockdown. The UK became the first country to authorise[33] and begin use of the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in a mass vaccination programme.[34][35] By early 2021, the UK had one of the highest vaccination rates in the world,[36] and the highest in Europe.[37] In late January, the governments imposed testing and quarantine rules on all incoming travellers.[38]

  1. ^ Lillie, Patrick J.; Samson, Anda; Li, Ang; Adams, Kate; Capstick, Richard; Barlow, Gavin D.; Easom, Nicholas; Hamilton, Eve; Moss, Peter J.; Evans, Adam; Ivan, Monica (28 February 2020). "Novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19): The first two patients in the UK with person to person transmission". Journal of Infection. 80 (5): 600–601. doi:10.1016/j.jinf.2020.02.020. ISSN 0163-4453. PMC 7127394. PMID 32119884.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK". GOV.UK Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the UK. UK Crown. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  3. ^ "GOV.UK Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  4. ^ "Interactive COVID-19 data by location". International SOS. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  5. ^ "Mortality Analyses". Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Centrew. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  6. ^ Lay, Kat; Ellis, Rosa. "Coronavirus: Britain is first in Europe to hit 50,000 deaths". The Times. Archived from the original on 11 November 2020. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  7. ^ Office for National Statistics (30 April 2020). "Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  8. ^ "Deaths involving coronavirus (COVID-19) in Scotland". National Records of Scotland. 31 May 2013. Retrieved 26 September 2020."Weekly Deaths". NISRA. 12 January 2017. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  9. ^ Cite error: The named reference bbc423 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  10. ^ "'Huge contrasts' in devolved NHS". BBC News. 28 August 2008.
  11. ^ Greer, Scott L. (10 June 2016). "Devolution and health in the UK: policy and its lessons since 1998". British Medical Bulletin. Retrieved 13 October 2020. Since devolution in 1998, the UK has had four increasingly distinct health systems, in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
  12. ^ "Coronavirus becomes 'notifiable disease' in Scotland". Holyrood. 21 February 2020. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  13. ^ "Coronavirus in Northern Ireland to be classed as 'notifiable disease' - allowing legally-compelled testing". Belfast Telegraph, 27 February 2020.
  14. ^ Coronavirus (COVID-19) listed as a notifiable disease. Department of Health and Social Care, 5 March 2020.
  15. ^ "UK conducts random coronavirus testing as part of early warning plan". Reuters, 26 February 2020.
  16. ^ "Coronavirus public information campaign launched across the UK". Department of Health and Social Care, 3 February 2020.
  17. ^ "Prime Minister′s statement on coronavirus (COVID-19): 16 March 2020". www.gov.uk. 16 March 2020. Retrieved 6 October 2020. So third, in a few days′ time — by this coming weekend — it will be necessary to go further and to ensure that those with the most serious health conditions are largely shielded from social contact for around 12 weeks.
  18. ^ "PM announces strict new curbs on life in UK". BBC News. 23 March 2020. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  19. ^ "What is in the Coronavirus Bill? Key areas of the new legislation". The Daily Telegraph. 25 March 2020.
  20. ^ "Britain Placed Under a Virtual Lockdown by Boris Johnson". The New York Times. 23 March 2020.
  21. ^ "Coronavirus: Priti Patel says UK should have closed borders in March 2020". BBC News, 20 January 2021.
  22. ^ "Chancellor Sunak warns of 'tough times' for UK economy". BBC News. 14 April 2020.
  23. ^ "Coronavirus: 'Profound' mental health impact prompts calls for urgent research". BBC News. 16 April 2020.
  24. ^ "UK's social distancing has flattened COVID-19 curve: science official". Reuters. 15 April 2020.
  25. ^ Cite error: The named reference bbc52493500 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  26. ^ "Death rate 'back to normal' in UK". BBC News Online. 30 June 2020. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  27. ^ "England's Covid tier system explained... with cake". BBC News. 17 November 2020. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  28. ^ "Covid-19: Nicola Sturgeon unveils Scotland's restriction levels". BBC News. 29 October 2020. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  29. ^ Morris, Steven (19 October 2020). "What are the rules of Wales's circuit breaker coronavirus lockdown?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  30. ^ "NI enters two-week circuit breaker lockdown". ITV News. 27 November 2020. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  31. ^ "'New variant' of coronavirus identified in England". BBC News. 14 December 2020. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  32. ^ Cite error: The named reference :3 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  33. ^ "Covid-19: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine judged safe for use in UK". BBC News. 2 December 2020. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  34. ^ "Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment) - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  35. ^ "Covid-19 vaccine: First person receives Pfizer jab in UK". BBC News. 8 December 2020. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  36. ^ "How many COVID-19 vaccination doses have been administered?". Our World in Data.
  37. ^ Number of COVID-19 vaccination doses administered in Europe as of March 3, 2021, by country. Statistica.
  38. ^ "Covid: UK closes all travel corridors until at least 15 February". BBC News, 18 January 2021.


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