EXACTLY a year ago coronavirus hit Dorset for the first time and has been prevalent ever since.

Two cases were confirmed by Public Health England (PHE) in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area on that day, taking the total in the south west to 35 and the UK total to 273.

MARCH 2020

At the time, just two people had died with the virus in the UK.

On the same day, a Poole gym confirmed a member had been “diagnosed with coronavirus”.

Bournemouth Echo: The Gym Poole closes for a deep clean. Picture: BNPSThe Gym Poole closes for a deep clean. Picture: BNPS

The Gym Poole, which operates in a unit in the Nuffield Industrial Estate, closed for a deep clean after the case.

An email sent to members of the gym said: “Unfortunately, we have been made aware that a member of The Gym Poole has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Your welfare is of the utmost priority to us, so we have taken the decision to close the gym temporarily."

It was not clear if the case at The Gym was one of the two cases confirmed by PHE.

On March 9, BCP and Dorset councils confirmed three cases had been confirmed in the county.

Sam Crowe, director of public health for the two councils, said: “I’d like to reassure people that the risk to the general public remains low and that we are working with our NHS colleagues to do everything we can to stop the virus spreading and make sure the people of Dorset are protected as much as possible.”

A student from Bournemouth University then tested positive, and the university confirmed they had come into contact with the virus through an individual based in the UK but not at the university.

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Clarks in the Dolphin Shopping Centre then closed its doors after a member of staff tested positive for Covid-19.

On March 23, the same day prime minister Boris Johnson plunged the country into its first lockdown, the first coronavirus death was confirmed in Dorset.

A 72-year-old woman, who had underlying health conditions, died on March 21 at the Dorset County Hospital.

A Dorset County spokesperson said: “Sadly, we can confirm that a woman who had been cared for at Dorset County Hospital and died at the hospital on March 21, 2020 had tested positive for COVID-19.

“Our thoughts and condolences are with them at this difficult and distressing time.”

On March 25, one person died at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, becoming the first fatality in the BCP Council area.

By the end of March, 84 people had contracted Covid-19 in Dorset, 39 in the BCP Council area and 45 in the Dorset Council area. Across the UK, 1,406 people who tested positive had died.

APRIL 2020

April saw jumbo jets take sanctuary at Bournemouth Airport.

Dozens of aircraft would remain parked at the airport for the coming months as British Airways suspended all flights to and from Gatwick.

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Police also revealed some of the bizarre excuses given by drivers stopped on their way into Dorset on Good Friday.

Spear fishing, dog walking, visiting a friend and plans to self-isolate in a rented camper van were among the reasons given for being on the road.

PICTURED: Men have BBQ near Bournemouth clifftop during lockdown

And on April 27, it was confirmed the Creekmoor park and ride would be used as a coronavirus testing site.

Council leader at the time, Vikki Slade said: “We have moved extremely quickly to identify a suitable site and complete all necessary arrangements and site clearance required to make it available to the Department of Health and Social Care, so that they can begin testing our local NHS and key workers as soon as possible.

“This means that Dorset’s key workers will have much more convenient access to testing, which is very welcome indeed.”

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Fast forward 12 months, three lockdowns, one major incident when thousands flocked to Bournemouth one hot week and one roadmap later, and more than 35,000 people have now had the virus in Dorset.

More than 830 people have died across the county’s hospitals. In England, more than 3million cases have been recorded and more than 100,000 deaths have been confirmed.

And it's not quite clear what normality will look like come June at the earliest, but PM Boris Johnson wants all restrictions lifted and the economy reopened this summer.

But what is clear is that the last year will have an impact on every day life for years to come, whether it be less people in supermarkets or facemasks becoming more common.

It has been an unprecedented year and one that will hopefully not repeat itself for many, many years.