Covid-19: One year on from Northamptonshire's first virus case more than 45,000 have had it and 1,500 died

Holidaymaker just back from Italy was county's patient zero on March 3, 2020

By Kevin Nicholls
Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 7:22 am
How the number of Covid cases and deaths in Northamptonshire stands according to latest government figures
How the number of Covid cases and deaths in Northamptonshire stands according to latest government figures

News on March 3 that someone in Northamptonshire had coronavirus was hardly unexpected what had gone on in the previous few months.

Twelve months on, though, more than 45,000 of the county's 750,000 population have tested positive for the virus and more than 1,500 have died.

Numbers even the most fearful of what the virus could do would surely not have predicted.

Covid patients began to overwhelm hospitals in Kettering and Northampton within weeks of the first case being identified. Photo: Getty Images

We've spent 153 days out of the last 365 days in lockdown — with more still to come.

Yet all that still seemed the most unrealistic of outcomes when Professor Chris Witty confirmed a traveller had developed symptoms after returning to Northamptonshire from a known hotspot in Italy.

That was one of 12 new cases revealed that day by England's chief medical officer taking the total number of UK cases to 51.

Certainly Public Health England 's statement on March 3 confirming that first case, gave no hint. It said: "The case is a resident of Northamptonshire and became infected whilst in Italy.

“Close contacts will be given health advice about symptoms and emergency contact details to use if they become unwell in the 14 days after contact with the confirmed case.

"This tried and tested method will ensure we are able to minimise any risk to them and the wider public."

Two days later, a second family member also tested positive after returning from the same trip.

By March 9 the number had doubled to four, and 12 a week later.

On March 16, the virus claimed its first two victims in the county — a 92-year-old at Northampton General Hospital and a 45-year-old Kettering dad of two, both died on the same day.

By March 28 the number with coronavirus had reached 100 and the country was in lockdown with people told not to go out, shops, cinemas, theatres and pubs all shut. That was the first of 153 days of lockdown out of the next 365.

Less than three weeks later 100 people had died in hospitals with dire warnings of more to follow after Easter.

Non-essential shops would reopen in mid-June, pubs a three weeks later — although both are now closed again. Theatres, however, are still waiting to re-open.