AS DECEMBER draws to a close, this time of year is one usually of reflection but for many, 2020 is one they would rather forget.

A deadly virus, almost unheard of a year ago, has completely transformed daily life - for many, with disastrous consequences.

From the first Covid-19 deaths recorded in Buckinghamshire hospitals still laying heavy on our hearts, to the very latest Tier 4 Christmas changes that devastated many across the county in recent days.

We look back at some of the key dates and events of the pandemic.

This time last year coronavirus was just emerging as the first cases were reported in Wuhan City, China.

But it was in mid-January that fears of the virus hit Buckinghamshire, when a teacher from West Wycombe who lived in Wuhan for 10 years feared he could be spreading the deadly virus in the UK.

David Marland, who said he lived just minutes away from the market in Wuhan that was first linked to the spread of the virus in humans, claimed he was not tested when he flew home via Gatwick Airport.

At that point, 80 people in China had died from the virus, with thousands more infected.

On January 31, the first coronavirus cases were reported in the UK – a University of York student and relative.

Weeks that followed included several local scares, with Wycombe Hospital’s Urgent Treatment Centre closed suddenly on February 25 as a “precautionary measure for infection control” and The Simpson Centre GP in Beaconsfield shut on February 26 amid a suspected coronavirus case.

Meanwhile, Covid isolation pods were set up at Stoke Mandeville and Wycombe hospitals for patients who suspected they had the virus.

By the end of February, the UK had reported 16 cases.

March was when the seriousness of this previously unknown virus became evident to those living in Buckinghamshire.

On March 10, Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe confirmed a contact of a pupil there had tested positive for the virus, but the school remained open.

On March 12 it was revealed a “handful” of patients at Wycombe and Stoke Mandeville had caught the virus, with affected wards closed to new admissions and visitors.

Just the day before, March 11, there were only two official cases recorded in Buckinghamshire according to Public Health England.

It was announced on March 14 that a patient at Wycombe Hospital, a man in his seventies with underlying health conditions, had tested positive for the virus and sadly passed away.

The community was left reeling when 21-year-old High Wycombe woman Chloe Middleton, who reportedly had no underlying health conditions, died of Covid-19.

Her devastated family urged everyone to take the virus seriously, adding that they were “shattered beyond belief” at her death.

The month also saw the first daily government briefing and on March 18, it was announced all schools would close ‘until further notice’ and hospitality venues followed a few days later. Furlough was introduced with the Government covering 80 per cent of the wages of staff.

The UK death toll was then at 104.

By the end of March, the UK was a week into lockdown with rules allowing only essential travel, and outdoors exercise once a day. Panic-buying ensued with empty shelves at Buckinghamshire’s supermarkets as toilet paper, hand sanitiser, and pasta become hard to come by.

Recycling collections were suspended, a fight reportedly broke out in a chemist in Amersham over hand sanitiser and long queues formed outside our supermarkets.

Dozens of local events were also cancelled, including Pub in the Park in Marlow.

The Prince of Wales tested positive for coronavirus, as did Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock days later.

March also saw community spirit prevail as people took to their doorsteps in late March to Clap for Carers to applaud frontline workers. On March 28 Amged El-Hawrani, 55, was the first frontline NHS worker to die after testing positive for coronavirus.

Meanwhile, residents mobilised to create support groups to help those who needed it during the outbreak.

In April, one million confirmed cases of Covid-19 are recorded worldwide, and the death toll hits 100,000. As of April 16, there were 521 confirmed cases in Bucks.

By this point, Bucks Healthcare Trust announced a raft of measures in anticipation of the “increased demand for critical care” because of Covid-19, banning visitors to inpatient wards, suspending all new routine referrals and postponing routine elective surgeries.

Meanwhile, a man was jailed for 12 weeks for visiting Stoke Mandeville Hospital without a medical need to do so while it was treating Covid-19 patients and there was anger after police stopped a car-full of party-goers from different households breaking lockdown rules.

And a Hazlemere man who got stuck in the Philippines shared his distress after being stranded there because of Covid-19.

There was also upset when a party, which saw residents in Gomm Wood Close in Forty Green dancing in their own gardens, was nearly shut down by police – although they were eventually allowed to continue.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also hospitalised in April with worsening symptoms of coronavirus although was discharged by April 12.

UK figures had now surpassed 10,000 deaths. The first patients were admitted to London’s NHS Nightingale hospital and the first human trials launched for a vaccine, led by Oxford University.

Early May, the PM announces the easing of lockdown, with the 2m rule and advising face masks for enclosed spaces.

NHS Test and Trace also launched across England, while the rule of six comes into play.

May saw the arrival of the first mobile coronavirus testing site operated by the military open up at Handy Cross Park and Ride.

And The Downley School in High Wycombe faced backlash after proposing to bring forward the summer holidays to June so lessons could restart in August – and eventually U-turned on this idea.

This is the month data was revealed showing a breakdown of the number of coronavirus-related deaths by each postcode area.

Ross Kemp also visited Downley in May to film a documentary about how the community had come together amid the pandemic.

May 22 saw fears from whistleblowers about conditions at Royal Mail in High Wycombe after a postal worker tested positive for coronavirus.

June brought about the return of elite sport behind closed doors, and pupils began to return to school.

Bucks hospitals said they were still seeing “significant” numbers of Covid-19 patients coming in and there was outrage from residents as thousands descended on the contaminated Chinnor quarry, raising fears over social distancing amid the hot weather.

On June 15, shoppers returned to town centres as the majority of shops were given the go-ahead to reopen – and there were queues for a number of shops.

Eden Shopping Centre also revealed strict new virus safety rules including one-way systems and sanitising stations.

June also saw the closure of some businesses as the lockdown started to take its toll, with Welcome Gym in Wycombe Retail Park shutting for good.

In July, pubs and salons reopened for the first time in four months, and face coverings became mandatory inside. Eat Out To Help Out was also launched.

High Wycombe mayor Maz Hussain was photographed flouting social distancing rules in Birmingham on July 12 and controversial pop-up cycleways were introduced in a bid to make roads safer after lockdown.

In August, the High Wycombe Lions Club announced it was shutting down amid Covid-19 and associated health and safety concerns.

By September, a further 2,988 cases of coronavirus are reported in the UK – the largest daily figure since May 22.

A string of Bucks schools started to report positive coronavirus test results and there was outrage after a trip abroad in the summer holidays led to two schools, Sir William Borlase’s Grammar and Chesham Grammar, having to take measures after pupils tested positive.

The Chalfonts Community College in Chalfont St Giles, Beechview Academy and Highcrest Academy in High Wycombe also reported cases.

It was also revealed that pupils taking the 11-Plus would face the delayed tests at the end of October and the Cross Keys pub in Great Missenden had to shut after a staff member came into contact with someone with the virus.

The UK transmission rate rose above 1 for the first time since early March, and a 10pm curfew is introduced from September 24.

October brought with it a three-tier system, and Bucks was put into Tier 1, the lowest restrictions.

But Buckinghamshire Council said it was “concerned” as coronavirus cases were starting to rise quickly in Wycombe and South Bucks again and fears were raised the county would go into Tier 2.

By the month end, the UK exceeds one million cases of coronavirus. This brought with it a second lockdown from November 5 to December 2, and furlough extended to March.

After lockdown, Buckinghamshire went into Tier 2 restrictions as cases continued to rise, which MPs and council leader Martin Tett said was “disappointing”.

The pressures of the lockdowns had an effect on many businesses, including Frankie and Benny’s who announced they would be shutting their High Wycombe restaurant in Crest Road after their issues were “exacerbated” by pandemic.

But positive news came in November as a vaccines including Pfizer, BioNTech, and AstraZeneca, were proving to have effective results from latest data. Weeks later vaccines have been rolled out to UK patients.

As England’s second lockdown came to an end, with it came a rapid rise in cases particularly across the South East - including all areas in Buckinghamshire - and Tier 3 restrictions were imposed in from December 17 for two weeks.

But just one day after Bucks went into Tier 3, much of the south east was instead placed into a new Tier 4 - a bitter blow for the county as mixing households at Christmas was forbidden over fears a new strain of coronavirus was “increasing rapidly”.

On December 20, the UK coronavirus cases pass two million. As of December 22, there have been 11,722 cases of coronavirus diagnosed in Bucks, with the latest weekly rate per 100,000 population being 335.7 as of December 17.

There have been 485 Covid-19 deaths in Buckinghamshire as of December 4.

Remembering all those who fell ill, lost their lives, their businesses or homes and anyone else affected by the coronavirus pandemic.