Two years ago today, the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 a pandemic and Reading recorded its first case of the virus.

It was one of a total 456 cases in the UK, then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced, and eight people had died with Covid-19 on their death certificate. Today, that number is 184,458.

As the PM made calls to stop non-essential contact and travel, panicked Reading residents began stockpiling food and toilet rolls.

The public heard Prime Minister Boris Johnson announce eight days later that the UK could ‘send the virus packing within 12 weeks’.

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Over the next two years almost 19.5 million people would test positive for Covid-19. In Reading, 332 people would lose their lives and four of those were in just the last seven days.

On March 23, 2020, the UKs first lockdown was introduced – too slowly, according to an inquiry by The Health and Social Care Committee and Science and Technology Committee.

“It is now clear that this was the wrong policy, and that it led to a higher initial death toll than would have resulted from a more emphatic early policy,” read their report Coronavirus: Lessons Learnt.

When lockdown measures were legally enforced on March 26, all ‘non-essential’ high street shops were closed and people were ordered to stay at home, permitted to leave for essential purposes only.

Joe Wicks, Tiger King and making your own McDonalds chicken nuggets would capture the nation's attention as life changed in a way it never had before.

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People were permitted to leave their houses to sit in Forbury gardens and for other outdoor recreation from May 13, as rules slowly relaxed.

Two more lockdowns later and all covid rules are set to be scrapped from April 1, despite case numbers ticking up again.

Free universal testing will end and the use of voluntarily Covid status certification will no longer be recommended.

Daily cases in Reading rose from 88 on March 5, 2022, to 170 on March 8 and the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust admitted 53 patients to hospital with Covid in the last seven days.