How Sheffield reached 1,000 coronavirus deaths: Looking back over a traumatic year

They say Sheffielders are made of steel, but not even that could have prepared the city for the events of the past year.

Thursday, 4th February 2021, 4:36 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th February 2021, 4:41 pm

The pandemic has affected everyone in one way or another. Businesses have been forced to close, jobs have been lost and many who have beaten the disease are suffering after-effects known as long Covid.

Worse still, the virus has now claimed more than 1,000 lives, despite tireless work from our ever-incredible NHS staff and key workers.

There’s no denying we’ve been through a lot together since March 2020.

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The city has been through a lot in the past year.

But as the vaccination effort continues and we enter what Boris Johnson has termed the ‘last phase’ of the struggle, there’s every reason to be hopeful for the future.

Here’s a look back at how events have unfolded since March 11 2020, when coronavirus arrived in Sheffield.

MARCH 11 2020: FIRST CASE CONFIRMED IN SHEFFIELD

After days of speculation, it is officially confirmed that Covid-19 has finally hit Sheffield.

Leonard Gibson, 78, was the first person in Sheffield to die from the virus. He's pictured with his heartbroken daughters who warned residents to take the disease more seriously when it emerged back in March 2020.

Public Health England announces: "We are contacting people who had close contact with one confirmed case of COVID-19. This case is a resident of Sheffield."

By this point, the World Health Organisation had declared the outbreak a pandemic as the number of cases in the UK reached 456.

On March 11 there is an increase of 83 cases in 24 hours- the biggest jump so far which prompts the NHS to step up testing.

On this day there are more than 118,000 cases of the virus confirmed in 114 countries around the world- but it’s just the beginning.

With the first lockdown came panic buying in supermarkets. Sheffielders were suddenly left struggling to get their hands on everyday items such as toilet paper and flour.

Read the story here.

MARCH 17 2020: FIRST SHEFFIELD RESIDENT DIES FROM THE VIRUS

Grandad-of-four Leonard Gibson, from Oughtibridge, becomes the first person to die in the city after testing positive for Covid-19.

The 78-year-old passed away at the Northern General Hospital on the morning of March 17 after being diagnosed with the virus the week before.

The residents of Stocksbridge spend their first Friday night at home under lockdown (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

His devastated family sounds a warning to other Sheffielders to take the virus more seriously in the wake of his death.

His daughter Lisa, 50, from Catcliffe, says she regrets not questioning the possibility that her dad had Covid-19 and urged other families to voice their concerns ‘before it is too late’.

She says: “These coronavirus symptoms are going hidden because people are not suggesting coronavirus as they don’t think it will happen to them, but it can and it will unless more people start to demand to be tested. Don’t think you are being over dramatic by suggesting it as a possibility because ignoring it can prove fatal.”

Read the full story here.

MARCH 23 2020: FIRST NATIONAL LOCKDOWN (AND PANIC BUYING) BEGINS

The nation watches aghast as Prime Minister Boris Johnson tells the public to ‘stay at home’ over the ‘biggest threat’ to the UK ‘for decades’.

A man lays on the grass to enjoy the sunshine in Norton Park following an easing of lockdown guidelines (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP) (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images)

The measures laid out by the Government include restricted reasons for leaving home and social mixing.

, restaurants, bars across the city and the entire country are also forced to close while ‘working from home’ becomes standard for the first time.

Police check points are set up around Sheffield as officers crackdown on those making travel deemed non-essential.

Panic buying ensues, with Sheffielders struggling to get their hands on toilet roll, pasta, flour and canned tomatoes in supermarkets.

Restrictions are eased slightly around May, with the first lockdown lasting around seven weeks.

APRIL 11 2020: SHEFFIELD BECOMES WORST-HIT AREA IN ENGLAND

Sheffield overtakes London and now has the most positive coronavirus tests in England per 100,000 people. The city has 162 positive tests per 100,000 people in the city, closely followed by London, which has 158.

NOVEMBER 5 2020: SECOND NATIONAL LOCKDOWN BEGINS

The second lockdown comes into force on November 5 and lasts for four weeks. It is hoped that this lockdown will improve the chances of families being able to mix at Christmas.

Since October 24, Sheffield and South Yorkshire have been subject to ‘Tier 3’ restrictions.

The county returns to a Tier 3 lockdown when the national lockdown is lifted on December 2.

DECEMBER 8 2020: FRESH HOPE AS VACCINATION EFFORT STARTS

The biggest vaccine campaign in NHS history kicks off on the morning of Dcember 8, as 90-year-old grandmother Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer Covid-19 jab following its clinical approval. At 6.31am early riser Margaret, known to friends and family as Maggie, is given the life-saving jab by nurse May Parsons at her local hospital in Coventry.

Patients in Sheffield begin receiving jabs on the same day as the city along with 53 other trusts in England is given the green light to start administering the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.

Anthony Moore, an 82-year-old retired bricklayer, receives his jab at the Northern General Hospital.

He says: “I think it is great I have been given the chance to have the vaccine. It feels like winning the pools to me, it’s fantastic that the vaccine programme is starting so quickly and I feel very lucky.”

Anthony has been unable to go out during the pandemic due to ill health, and has missed seeing his great-grandsons.

Read the full story here.

JANUARY 4 2021: THIRD NATIONAL LOCKDOWN BEGINS- THE LAST PHASE?

The third national lockdown is announced today before becoming law two days later on January 6. Morale is now at a much lower point than we saw in the first lockdown. Addressing a tired nation, Boris Johnson says: “I want to say to everyone right across the United Kingdom that I know how tough this is, I know how frustrated you are, I know that you have had more than enough of Government guidance about defeating this virus. But now more than ever, we must pull together.

"The weeks ahead will be the hardest yet but I really do believe that we are entering the last phase of the struggle.”

JANUARY 26 2021: ‘WE DID EVERYTHING WE COULD,’ SAYS PM AS UK SURPASSES 100,000 DEATHS

The UK hits 100,000 deaths from the virus, doubling its 50,000 death toll in November in just 76 days.

Boris Johnson offered his "deepest condolences to everyone who's lost a loved one: fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and the many grandparents who have been taken."

He added: "I think on this day I should just really repeat that I am deeply sorry for every life that has been lost and, of course, as I was Prime Minister I take full responsibility for everything that the government has done."

FEBRUARY 1 2021: SHEFFIELD RECORDS 1,000 DEATHS

Today Sheffield joined Leeds and Bradford in a ‘terrible and tragic’ milestone of 1,000 deaths from the virus.

Leeds had the highest number of registered Covid deaths at 1,303, followed by Sheffield at 1,014 and Bradford at 1,001 as of 15 January, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The leader of Sheffield City Council, Councillor Bob Johnson, paid tribute to the city’s victims: “Every death associated with Covid-19 is one death too many and reaching 1,000 deaths is a terrible and tragic milestone for Sheffield.

"This deadly disease has brought heartbreak and pain to so many and I want to send my deepest condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one since the start of this pandemic.”

Read the full story here.

WHAT COMES NEXT?

Across the world, there have now been 104 million cases of coronavirus and 2.2m people have died.

Britain has the fifth-highest number of cases of any country in the world with a reported 3.8 million cases since the start of the pandemic.

But Boris Johnson has said he is "optimistic" people will be able to enjoy a summer holiday this year- if the virus is kept under control.

The PM has indicated the tier-system could be ditched in favour of a more national approach when lockdown ends, but more will no doubt be revealed during the upcoming review on February 22.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.

People walk past graffiti street art praising the workers of the NHS and other key workers in Sheffield (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images)
Anthony Moore receives the Covid-19 vaccine at the Northern General Hospital.