It's March 11th ... and it's EXACTLY a year since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
Not just an epidemic but a pandemic!
Not just a rapid spreading of a disease within a population, but an epidemic which is spreading across many countries, across the world. And quickly!
We'd been hearing about coronavirus since the end 0f 2019. Cases in China, cases emerging in other locations and countries. Mid-February, cases and deaths growing in numbers in Northern Italy.
On March 11th 2020 the WHO cited over 118,000 cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus in over 110 countries and territories around the world. They predicted ongoing and sustained risk of global spread.
At the time, the World Health Organisation's Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said this:
“This is not just a public health crisis, it is a crisis that will touch every sector. So every sector and every individual must be involved in the fights.”
It was official. The world was in a pandemic. We are still in that pandemic.
I'm not going to go over everything that's happened since. I just feel I need to mark the spot really.
Millions of people have died across the world .. as I'm writing this those numbers are over two and a half million. Globally, over 116 million have contracted the virus. And the numbers still rise - you can follow the daily global figures via the WHO numbers dashboard.
And these are not just faceless 'numbers'. Some of us have lost dear family and friends.
To contain the spread of the virus, most of us have adhered to strict living restrictions and 'lockdown' ... a word we hardly knew this time last year. We've worn masks, sanitised, kept our distance, not gathered in groups, missed out on meeting even our close family members. Members of our medical professions and those who are responsible for keeping our community going day-to-day have done so sometimes to the detriment of their own health.
Manufacturing , hospitality, service industries, shops, offices, transport systems, travel - just some of the sectors badly affected. Some will never recover. Many have lost their jobs, many of us have worked from home for nigh on a year now. Life has changed out of all proportion.
But now, thanks to the brilliant efforts of the world's scientists, we have vaccines. And although, unfortunately they are not being rolled out equally across the world, distribution has begun.
We know that vaccines won't 'eradicate' the coronavirus - experts say it is here to stay. The jabs don't 'cure' people from COVID-19 but the vaccine does, it appears, limit the effects. We are already beginning to see a slow down of deaths from the disease, although it is very very slow.
And being vaccinated doesn't mean we will be completely free to do whatever we want, go wherever we want. In fact some say the 'new normal' will require ongoing restrictions to our behaviour, especially as the virus mutates and takes different forms.
Here in Jersey in the Channel Islands we are coming up to the anniversary of the first COVID-19 positive test. We've lost nearly 70 dear people. And our community and commerce has been badly affected.
But there is optimism in the air.
The Government of Jersey is rolling out an excellent vaccination programme and I am privileged to have already received my first dose. Not because I'm 'vulnerable' but because I really am that old!
So today ... I remember those who are lost and those who are grieving. I remember those who are affected in so many ways, including physically, emotionally and financially. I thank those who have kept us safe, those who have nursed us, served us throughout this past year, distributed food parcels, ensured our island has kept it's head above water.
And today, I give thanks for the vaccine, and hope and trust that everyone across the world will soon have access to it, regardless of their economic or social status and the country in which they happen to reside. Only when the whole world is able to be vaccinated will the world begin to be a safer place.