IT started as the whisper of a threat half a world away in China - dim and distant, little more than an ominous shadow looming on the horizon.

The storm clouds of the pandemic were already gathering - and blowing hard towards us - but little did we imagine that months later coronavirus would have claimed more than 348,000 lives worldwide, brought the global economy to its knees and almost claimed the life of our Prime Minister. According to ONS figures, in England and Wales alone Covid-19 lies behind 41,220 deaths between December 28 last year and May 15 of this year.

In Worcestershire, this modern plague exacted its deadly toll - 270 deaths so far reported by Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust. From the beginning of March the UK saw a steep rise in coronavirus cases, the month which also saw the UK record its first death on British shores.

In our county supermarket shelves began to be stripped bare by panic buyers. Hand sanitiser, toilet roll, pain medicine and Calpol sold out or were at the very least in short supply in the Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s stores.

By Monday, March 16, Boris Johnson was urging everyone to work from home and avoid pubs and restaurants. Two days later it was announced that schools would shut. By Friday, March 20 the prime minster had ordered all pubs, restaurants and other social venues across the country to close as the UK entered a state of lockdown.

All those who could work from home were expected to do so. Families were split apart, exercise routines shattered. At the height of the pandemic we were limited to an hour’s exercise a day. Concerns continue to be raised about the impact on our physical and mental health not to mention our jobs.

Many lost their employment. Others were furloughed and the businesses which employ them now face an uncertain future as we plunge into recession. Many adapted their business model to the crisis, including farm shops, butchers, pubs and restaurants who increased their focus on deliveries. Consumers also changed the way they shopped for food and other essentials to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus.

The crisis was a chance for many in the county to show their grit, courage and ingenuity, their resilience and fortitude but above all else their kindness. The courage and sacrifice of the NHS frontline staff, carers, supermarket workers and delivery drivers kept this country going and earned the respect and love of the people of Worcestershire and nationwide. Some paid the ultimate price - nurse Julie Omar, 52, who had worked at Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester died at home of coronavirus on April 10. Jodon Gait, 46, a healthcare assistant at Worcester’s hospital died after contracting Covid-19.

Every Thursday at 8pm people across Worcestershire stepped out of their homes and clapped their hands or bashed together pots and pans during the ‘clap for carers’ to show their thanks.

It remains to be seen how long this ‘new normal’ of life under coronavirus will endure.We have a long road to travel, some a harder one than others. All we can do is walk it together and help, as best we can, those of us who stumble along the way.