Make a point of visiting us weekly!        Tell a friend about us. Seasonal Reflections:  January (2021)

Well, having started a monthly watch at the beginning of last year, it became such an auspicious year that it seemed wise to continue the practice through this year as well. We’re going to follow the same pattern as last year covering weather, nature and then most significantly what happened in the main national news.

A. Weather

If you are a new reader I should explain that this is a very informal report seeking to give just an overall feel of what took place this month, and I do it by keeping a simple note in my diary of what the weather was doing. So for instance my overall impression of this month was of rain – the ground is saturated as I’ve rarely seen it before, but my diary indicates notable rain on only nine days of the month! Having said that, one of two of those notes of ‘rain’ were followed by ‘heavy, most of the day!’

Now although there were only that limited number of days of rain, there were notes on fourteen days of ‘grey’ or ‘heavy cloud’. That was balanced by twelve notes of bright all day or sunny intervals. There were also ten days that started with a frost, often heavy. However, collectively this has been a month not conducive to lockdown, especially when you take into account the temperatures, and quite a lot of strong winds.

For the first week, the daily temperatures never rose above 4 degrees. For the next week they averaged about 5 degrees with a daily low of 1 degree early on, and highs of 8 degrees in the latter part of that period and in the third week stayed fairly consistently at 8 degrees. Going into the fourth week they dropped again to just below 4 or 5 degrees before a brief climb to 10 and then 13 degrees before dropping down to 4 degrees for the last couple of days. Mostly cold is a fair summary! Nothing surprising for winter!  

Reports say January had an average UK temperature of 2.2 degrees, the coldest January since 2010

B. Nature

What can you expect with quite a lot of frosts mixed with quite a lot of grey if not distinctly wet days? Well nature is hardy. As far as the trees are concerned the evergreens are impervious to the weather while most of the other trees have now been completely denuded. Bulbs continue to push up and early crocuses are out in the midst of the grass. Hellebores are starting to flower. Dahlias have now all be cut down and covered with frost protection. Elsewhere there is only little colour. Wallflowers are looking healthy and one or two budding.

C. The Main News

Unquestionably the virus still holds pride of place on news programmes but the focus has been on numbers (increasingly a month of statistics!) and the vaccine availability and roll-out. Statistics have swung from daily positive test figures to daily numbers of deaths, to total death toll, to numbers of vaccines being given each day and, finally, total number of vaccines given.

2nd – A record high daily positive test figure is reported at 57,725, as the new strain of the virus continues to spread.

4th – the UK's second vaccine against COVID-19, developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca, begins to be rolled out .

4th – Most of England’s primary schools reopen after the Christmas break, amid concerns over whether pupils should be returning during the current level of infections.

4th – The Joint Biosecurity Centre recommends that the COVID Alert Level is moved from 4 to 5, indicating a "material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed".

4th – In Scotland tougher restrictions for mainland Scotland are imposed in order to contain the new strain of the virus, with the public ordered to stay at home from midnight and delaying the return to school for pupils until February.

4th – The PM instigates a new national lockdown for England, with people ordered to stay at home, and all schools and colleges to switch to remote learning from 5 January,  expected to last until at least mid-February

4thnew record high daily positive test figure is reported at 58,784

5th – The number of new daily confirmed cases of infections surpasses 60,000 for the first time since the pandemic began, at 60,916

6th – Education Secretary announces that GCSE’s & A-levels in England this summer to be replaced by teacher assessments,

6th – Another record daily case figure is reported, with 62,322 new infections. The daily number of deaths from the virus exceeds 1,000 for the first time since April 2020.

7th – Two anti-inflammatory medications, tocilizumab and sarilumab, are found to cut deaths by a quarter in patients who are sickest with COVID-19.

8th – A third vaccine is approved for public use, made by US company Moderna and offering 94% protection from the virus.

8th – A major incident is declared in London by mayor Sadiq Khan, stating that the spread of the virus is "out of control" in the capital.

8th – The highest number of daily deaths since the pandemic began is recorded at 1,325. A new record high daily positive test figure is reported at 68,053.

9th – Buckingham Palace say that the Queen and Prince Philip have both received the first doses of their COVID-19 vaccinations at Windsor Castle.

10th – Professor Peter Horby, chair of the government's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group says on the Andrew Marr Show "we are now in the eye of the storm" and "it was bad in March, it's much worse now."

10th – Health Secretary Matt Hancock tells the BBC that everybody in the top four most vulnerable groups will be offered a vaccine by 15 February, while every adult in the UK will be offered one by the autumn.

13th – The highest daily death toll since the pandemic began is recorded, at 1,564.

14th – The government bans travel from South America and Portugal over concerns of a new Brazilian variant of COVID-19.

15th – Boris Johnson announces that the UK is to close all travel corridors from 18 January to "protect against the risk of as yet unidentified new strains" of COVID-19, forcing all passengers travelling to the UK to produce a negative test result.

19th – Based on testing for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that 1 in 10 people across the UK had the virus by December 2020 – nearly double the November figure.

19th – The highest daily death toll since the pandemic began is recorded, at 1,610.

20th – The highest daily death toll since the pandemic began is recorded, at 1,820.

21st – Glastonbury Festival is cancelled for the second year running as a result of the pandemic.

21st – Arlene Foster announces that the lockdown in Northern Ireland will be extended to at least 5 March, adding that restrictions may have to remain in place until after the Easter holidays in April.

21st – Storm Christoph: Five "danger to life" flood warnings are put in place across North West England and Wales after hundreds of homes are evacuated overnight due to widespread flooding caused by heavy rain and snow.

22nd – The R number is reported to have fallen to between 0.8 and 1 for the first time since the beginning of December 2020.

22nd – The latest analysis of UK data suggests that the new viral strain may be up to 30% deadlier.

25th – Online retailer Boohoo acquires the Debenhams brand and website for £55m after the department store went into administration in April 2020, but it does not retain any of its stores, meaning the loss of up to 12,000 jobs.

26th – The PM says he is "deeply sorry for every life that has been lost" as the number of deaths from the virus exceeds 100,000.

27th – The PM confirms that schools in England will not be able to reopen to all pupils after the February half-term as planned, but could do so from 8 March "at the earliest". He adds that he hopes a "gradual and phased" relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions can begin in early March.

27th – Home Secretary Priti Patel announces that people travelling from "red list" countries considered to be COVID-19 hotspots will be required to quarantine in government hotels, while anyone wishing to travel abroad will need to prove that they are making an essential trip.

28th  – A third vaccine, Novavax, which will be manufactured in Stockton-on-Tees, is shown to be 89.3% effective against the virus in a two-dose regimen, following large-scale UK trials. 60 million doses are secured by the government.

29th  – A fourth vaccine, Ad26.COV2.S, is shown to be 66% effective against the virus in a one-dose regimen. With 30 million doses ordered, Matt Hancock tells reporters that it could "significantly bolster" the UK's vaccine programme if approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

30th – A record daily high of 598,389 people are given a coronavirus vaccination, bringing the total so far to 8,977,329.

31st – Flu cases are reported to have fallen by more than 95%, reaching the lowest levels seen in 130 years, believed to be due to the COVID-19 lockdown and new health habits.

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