Peter Rhodes on facemasks, shoplifters and all the other aspects of the disease that dominated the year

On New Year's Day 2020, we'd never heard of Coronavirus. Since then it has dominated global headlines. Here, month by month, is how the story developed in this column

The face of 2020
The face of 2020

January: We may never know for sure whether China has tried to keep the lid on its coronavirus epidemic. But the claims of a cover-up will ring a bell with anyone who watched the excellent mini series, Chernobyl. A Communist Party official declares, with genuine pride, that the disaster has been dealt with “in the finest traditions of the KGB.”

February: David Abel and his wife Sally have become Britain's best-known quarantine couple on the liner (Diamond Princess) . You'd imagine the authorities would ensure this high-profile couple's safety. And yet even the Abels contracted coronavirus

March: We were so focused on the EU that no-one paid much attention to whispers of some sudden deaths in a far-off city. Trouble in Wuhan? Surely you mean Brussels . . ?

April: The lockdown-breakers cheerfully post their images on social media. Have they really no idea that retribution may follow?

May: One of my spies in a Black Country supermarket tells me: “Theft is at an all time low. They see the extra security and just go away.”

June: The track-and-trace app being tested in the Isle of Wight has proved a flop. But can any technology cope with human nature? For ordinary people, self-isolation is a pain but self-delusion is second nature.

July: A reader asks why face masks have to be worn in shops but not in swimming pools. The answer, of course, is that the pool is treated with chlorine which kills the coronavirus. And the ultimate solution is underwater shopping.

August: Puzzle amid the pandemic. As thousands of furloughed workers prepare to return to toil, the office has been empty for weeks, the staff have all been at home. So who has nicked your chair?

September: How is forcing pubs to close at 10pm, as part of the latest anti-virus measures, going to change anything? If the pubs close an hour earlier, the regulars will simply start boozing an hour earlier.

October: For the majority of Brits, this pandemic is not a PLU contagion. We don't know anybody who has died of it, so we assume it cannot harm People Like Us.

November: Soon there will be a huge and growing constituency of people who have encountered Covid, beaten it and no longer fear it, and demand normality.

December: The continuing mystery of the pandemic which has been with us for nine months is the inability to count bodies at weekends. You'd think they'd at least get the sums right 24/7.

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