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The COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom is part of the
worldwide pandemic
worldwide pandemic
of coronavirus disease 2019 (). The virus reached the United Kingdom, UK in late January 2020. As of 20 December 2021, there had been 11.4 million confirmed cases – the most in COVID-19 pandemic in Europe, Europe and fourth-highest worldwide. By that date there had been deaths among people who had recently tested positive – the COVID-19 pandemic by country and territory#Statistics, world's seventh-highest death toll and COVID-19 pandemic death rates by country, 28th-highest death rate by population. This is Europe's COVID-19 pandemic in Europe, second-highest death toll after COVID-19 pandemic in Russia, Russia, and 20th-highest death rate. Since early 2021, the UK has had one of the world's highest COVID-19 testing, testing rates. There has been some disparity between the outbreak's severity in COVID-19 pandemic in England, England, COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland, Scotland, COVID-19 pandemic in Wales, Wales and COVID-19 pandemic in Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland – health-care in the UK is Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, each constituent country having its own publicly-funded healthcare system run by devolved governments. The United Kingdom responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, country's response at first included a public information campaign and certain Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020, expansions to government powers, but was otherwise relatively slow in implementing restrictions. On 23 March 2020, the British government response to the COVID-19 pandemic, government responded to the widening outbreak with a COVID-19 lockdowns, stay-at-home order banning all non-essential travel and social contact, and shut schools, businesses and gathering places. Those with symptoms, and their households, were told to Self-isolation, self-isolate, while those considered at highest risk were told to Cocooning (behaviour), shield. Police were empowered to enforce the measures, and all four governments given Coronavirus Act 2020, emergency powers not used since the United Kingdom home front during World War II, Second World War. The health services established COVID-19 hospitals in the United Kingdom, temporary critical care hospitals, but initially faced Shortages related to the COVID-19 pandemic#Personal protective equipment, shortages of protective gear. Restrictions were gradually lifted during the summer after the peak of the outbreak. As the infection rate (or Statistics of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom#Test positivity rate, positivity rate) rose again in autumn 2020, regional restrictions were reintroduced in some areas and in each of the four countries. In late 2020, a SARS-CoV-2 Alpha variant, more infectious variant of the virus emerged in the UK, causing another rise in the infection rate during winter that was deadlier than the first, and prompting another UK-wide lockdown. The country's COVID-19 vaccination in the United Kingdom, vaccination programme was the first to start in December 2020 and was in early 2021 one of the world's fastest. As restrictions were lifted from April 2021, the more transmissible SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, Delta variant arrived in the UK and drove another wave of infections in mid-2021, which delayed the lifting of the last restrictions until July. Daily cases rose into the autumn, but deaths and hospitalisations were lower than previous waves because of high vaccination rates. In late 2021, the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant, Omicron variant arrived in the UK and drove another rise in cases. COVID passports in the United Kingdom, Proof of vaccination or non-infection became mandatory to enter most indoor venues. As well as the major strain on the Health care in the United Kingdom, UK's healthcare service and a substantial fall in life expectancy, the pandemic has had a severe Economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom, impact on the UK's economy, caused major Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education in the United Kingdom, disruptions to education and had Social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom, far-reaching impacts on society.


History


Background

On 12 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus was the cause of a respiratory illness in a cluster of people in Wuhan City, Hubei, China, which was reported to the WHO on 31 December 2019. The Case fatality rate, case fatality ratio for COVID-19 has been much lower than Severe acute respiratory syndrome, SARS of 2003, but the Transmission (medicine), transmission has been significantly greater, with a significant total death toll. Genetic sequencing has traced most COVID-19 cases in the United Kingdom to imported cases from Italy, France, and Spain, rather than directly from China.


First wave

Though later reporting indicated that there may have been some cases dating from late 2019, COVID-19 was confirmed to be spreading in the UK by the end of January 2020 with the first confirmed deaths in March. The country was initially relatively slow in implementing restrictions. Subsequent epidemiological analysis showed that over 1000 lineages of SARS-CoV-2 entered the UK in early 2020 from international travellers, mostly from COVID-19 pandemic in Europe, outbreaks elsewhere in Europe, leading to numerous clusters that overwhelmed contact tracing efforts. A legally-enforced Stay at Home Order, or COVID-19 lockdowns, lockdown, was introduced on 23 March, banning all non-essential travel and contact with other people, and shut schools, businesses, venues and gathering places. People were told to Social distancing, keep apart in public. Those with symptoms, and their households, were told to Self-isolation, self-isolate, while those considered at highest risk were told to Cocooning (behaviour), shield. The health services worked to raise hospital capacity and established COVID-19 hospitals in the United Kingdom, temporary critical care hospitals, but initially faced some Shortages related to the COVID-19 pandemic#Personal protective equipment, shortages of personal protective equipment. By mid-April it was reported that restrictions had "Flatten the curve, flattened the curve" of the epidemic and the UK had passed its peak after 26,000 deaths. Restrictions were steadily eased across the UK in late spring and early summer that year. The UK's epidemic in early 2020 was at the time one of the largest and deadliest worldwide.


Second wave

By the autumn, COVID-19 cases were again rising. This led to the introduction of Social distancing measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing measures and some localised restrictions. Larger lockdowns took place in all of Wales, England and Northern Ireland later that season. In both England and Scotland, First COVID-19 tier regulations in England, tiered restrictions were introduced in October, and England went into a The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 4) Regulations 2020, month-long lockdown during November followed by The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020, new tiered restrictions in December. Multi-week 'circuit-breaker' lockdowns were imposed Timeline of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wales (2020), in Wales and Timeline of the COVID-19 pandemic in Northern Ireland (2020), Northern Ireland. A SARS-CoV-2 Alpha variant, new variant of the virus is thought to have originated in Kent around September 2020. Once restrictions were lifted, the novel variant rapidly spread across the UK. Its increased transmissibility contributed to a continued increase in daily infections that surpassed previous records. The healthcare system had come under severe strain by late December which led to further restrictions being introduced across all of the UK. Following a brief easing of restrictions for Christmas, all of the UK went into The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020, a third lockdown. The second wave peaked in mid-January with over 1,000 daily deaths, before declining into the summer. The first COVID-19 vaccine was approved and began being COVID-19 vaccination in the United Kingdom, deployed across the UK in early December; with a staggered rollout prioritising the most vulnerable and then moving to progressively younger age groups. The UK was the first country to do so, and in early 2021 its vaccination program was one of the fastest in the world. By August 2021, more than 75% of adults in the UK were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Quarantine rules for all incoming travellers were introduced for the first time in late January."Coronavirus: Priti Patel says UK should have closed borders in March 2020"
. ''BBC News'', 20 January 2021.
Restrictions began to ease from late February onwards and almost all had ended in Great Britain by August.


Third wave

A third wave of daily infections began in July 2021 due to the arrival and rapid spread of the highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant. However, mass vaccination continued to keep deaths and hospitalisations at much lower levels than in previous waves. Infection rates remained high and hospitalisations and deaths rose into the autumn. The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant was confirmed to have arrived and begun spreading in the community in early December, driving a further increase in cases that surpassed previous records, although the true number of infections was thought to be higher. It became mandatory for people to show COVID passports in the United Kingdom, proof of full vaccination or proof that they are not infected to enter certain indoor hospitality and entertainment venues. This applied to all nightclubs and indoor unseated events for at least 500 people; in Wales it also applied to cinemas and theatres; while in Northern Ireland it also applied to cinemas, theatres and Alcohol licensing laws of the United Kingdom, licenced premises.


Responses


Impacts


Health and life expectancy

The COVID-19 pandemic led to the largest fall in life expectancy in England since records began in 1981. On average, British COVID-19 victims lost around a decade of life; the last time deaths rose so sharply in the UK was during United Kingdom in World War II, World War II. In 2020, the disease was the leading cause of death among men, and second leading cause among women. Research suggests over 1 million people in the UK have had Long COVID, with the majority reporting substantial impacts on day-to-day life. The pandemic's major impact on the country's Healthcare in the United Kingdom, healthcare system, leading to long waiting lists for medical procedures and ambulances, also led to an indirect increase in deaths from other conditions. The lockdown also had a major Mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health impact. In August 2021, a report from Age UK found that 27% of people over 60 could not walk as far and 25% were living in more physical pain earlier this year compared to the start of the pandemic. 54% of older people felt less confident attending a hospital appointment, and 37% of older people felt less confident going to a GP surgery.


Economic

The pandemic was widely disruptive to the economy of the United Kingdom, with most sectors and workforces adversely affected. Some temporary shutdowns became permanent; some people who were furloughed were later made redundant. The economic disruption has had a significant impact on people's mental health—with particular damage to the mental health of foreign-born men whose work hours have been reduced/eliminated.


Social

The pandemic has had far-reaching consequences in the country that go beyond the spread of the disease itself and efforts to quarantine it, including political, cultural, and social implications.


Spread to other countries and territories

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, tested positive for COVID-19 upon her return from WE Day events in the UK; on 12 March 2020 the Trudeau family entered two weeks of self-isolation. The first patient in Mauritius was a 59-year-old man who returned from the United Kingdom on 7 March 2020. When he arrived in Mauritius, the Mauritian had no symptoms. Other cases of the novel coronavirus resulting from travel to the UK were subsequently reported in India and Nigeria. On 16 June 2020, it was widely reported in British media that New Zealand's COVID-19 pandemic in New Zealand, first COVID-19 cases in 24 days were diagnosed in two British women, both of whom had travelled from the UK and were given special permission to visit a dying parent. The women had entered the country on 7 June, after first flying into Doha and Brisbane. A 2021 study suggested that the SARS-CoV-2 Alpha variant which was first detected in Kent is thought to have began its spread to many countries internationally from flights originating Airports of London, in London in late 2020.


Statistics

As of 20 December 2021, there had been 11.4 million confirmed cases – the most in COVID-19 pandemic in Europe, Europe and fourth-highest worldwide. By that date there had been deaths among people who had recently tested positive – the COVID-19 pandemic by country and territory#Statistics, world's seventh-highest death toll and COVID-19 pandemic death rates by country, 28th-highest death rate by population. This is Europe's COVID-19 pandemic in Europe, second-highest death toll after COVID-19 pandemic in Russia, Russia, and 20th-highest death rate. Since early 2021 the UK has had one of the world's highest COVID-19 testing, testing rates.


Mathematical modelling and government response

Reports from the Medical Research Council (United Kingdom), Medical Research Council's Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College, London have been providing mathematically calculated estimates of cases and case fatality rates. In February 2020, the team at Imperial College, led by epidemiologist Neil Ferguson (epidemiologist), Neil Ferguson, estimated about two-thirds of cases in travellers from China were not detected and that some of these may have begun "chains of transmission within the countries they entered". They forecast that the new type of coronavirus could infect up to 60% of the UK's population, in the worst-case scenario. In a paper on 16 March, the Imperial College team provided detailed forecasts of the potential impacts of the epidemic in the UK and US. It detailed the potential outcomes of an array of 'non-pharmaceutical interventions'. Two potential overall strategies outlined were: mitigation, in which the aim is to reduce the health impact of the epidemic but not to stop transmission completely; and suppression, where the aim is to reduce transmission rates to a point where case numbers fall. Until this point, government actions had been based on a strategy of mitigation, but the modelling predicted that while this would reduce deaths by approximately 2/3, it would still lead to approximately 250,000 deaths from the disease and the health systems becoming overwhelmed. On 16 March, the Prime Minister announced changes to government advice, extending self-isolation to whole households, advising social distancing particularly for vulnerable groups, and indicating that further measures were likely to be required in the future. A paper on 30 March by the Imperial College group estimated that the lockdown would reduce the number of dead from 510,000 to less than 20,000. This paper and others relied on data from European countries including the UK to estimate that the combined non-pharmaceutical interventions reduced the reproduction number of the virus by 67-87%, enough to stop infections from growing. However, followup work concluded that the effectiveness of interventions was lower in later waves of infections. In April 2020, biostatistician Professor Sheila Bird said the delay in the reporting of deaths from the virus meant there was a risk of underestimating the steepness of the rising epidemic trend. In December 2021 scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine predicted that SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant, Omicron could cause from 25,000 to 75,000 deaths in England over the five months to April unless there are more stringent restrictions. Omicron will probably be the dominant variant by the end December.Omicron could cause 75,000 deaths in England by end of April, say scientists
''The Guardian''


See also

*COVID-19 pandemic in England **COVID-19 pandemic in London *COVID-19 pandemic in Northern Ireland *COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland *COVID-19 pandemic in Wales *COVID-19 pandemic in the British Overseas Territories *COVID-19 pandemic in Guernsey *COVID-19 pandemic in Jersey *COVID-19 pandemic in the Isle of Man *Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on retail#United Kingdom, COVID-19 pandemic impact on retail (United Kingdom) *Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education in the United Kingdom *COVID-19 vaccination programme in the United Kingdom *British government response to the COVID-19 pandemic *COVID-19 pandemic in Europe


Notes


References


Further reading

* Arbuthnott, George, and Calvert, Jonathan, ''Failures of State, Failures of State: The Inside Story of Britain's Battle with Coronavirus'' (Harper Collins, 2021). * Horton, Richard, ''The COVID–19 Catastrophe: What's Gone Wrong and How To Stop It Happening Again'' (Polity Press, 2021).


External links

* * * * *
COVID-19 United Kingdom government statistics
* {{Portal bar, COVID-19, United Kingdom, Medicine, Viruses COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom, COVID-19 pandemic by country, United Kingdom 2020 in the United Kingdom 2021 in the United Kingdom Articles containing video clips Disasters in the United Kingdom