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25/07/2021

COVID ONE YEAR ON: A week of fear, uncertainty and panic-buying

Can you remember where you were?

COVID ONE YEAR ON: A week of fear, uncertainty and panic-buying

Pic: Mary K Burke

“Good morning. I need to speak to you about Coronavirus and Covid-19,” was how Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar opened his statement on March 12, 2020.

“Schools, colleges, and childcare facilities will close from tomorrow. Where possible, teaching will be done on-line or remotely,” he continued.

The first case of Covid-19 was recorded on the island of Ireland on February 27. A passenger returning to Belfast from virus-stricken northern Italy who had come through Dublin airport.

Two days later, the Republic of Ireland recorded its first case, again linked to travel from northern Italy, and the creeping panic had begun to build.

Photos of empty supermarket shelves appeared online. There was a premium on hand sanitiser, anti-bacterial wipes, and pasta.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking last year.

When Leo Varadkar made his statement from Washington DC, there were 43 cases in the Republic. Across the border, 20 had been recorded.

The rollout of measures in Northern Ireland came at a slower pace. Schools would not officially close their doors until March 23, four days after the first Covid-related death on March 19.

Many locally had already taken the decision to close, along with GAA clubs and other sporting organisations across the county.

From March 20, pubs, cafés, gyms and restaurants were ordered to close, though many had already taken the decision in the run-up to St Patrick's Day.

On the first evening of home-schooling, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the UK was entering its period of lockdown.

'Stay at home' moved from mere advice to mandatory instruction, and one year on, the country are still reeling from the effects of Covid-19.

In the weeks that followed, we spoke to a number of local people as they tried to navigate Covid-19's early surge.

One year on, with vaccine numbers rising and case numbers falling, we've caught up with them for an update.

Let's hope we don't need a 'Two Years On' feature.

Related:

COVID ONE YEAR ON: Dancing community missing the buzz a year later

COVID ONE YEAR ON: Clear difference in NI and Italy's Coronavirus response

COVID ONE YEAR ON: Two steps forward and twenty steps backward

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