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2020 Vision: The 'Stranger Than Fiction' 'New Abnormal' Year in Review. Part 1

© Harrison Schmitt/Christie'sThe "Blue Marble," the first fully illuminated photo of Earth taken by a human in 1972.
The Blue Marble, the first fully illuminated photo of Earth taken by a human in 1972. - Sputnik International
The world is a very different place at the end of 2020 than it was at the start. Let’s take a look back and remind ourselves how events unfolded.


  • 1st: Millions of people across the world celebrate the coming of the New Year – and a new decade-with dancing, music and parties. Who’d have thought that in just a few weeks' time social gatherings would be banned by the state?   
  • 2nd: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweets: ‘This is going to be a fantastic year for Britain. Spoiler Alert: He was telling porkies. 

Bill Gates proves to be more prescient. In a tweet of December 19th 2019 the US computer software multi-billionaire says: ‘I’m particularly excited about what the next year could mean for one of the best buys in global health: vaccines’.  

  • 3rd: Fears of a war with Iran escalate after a US drone strike kills Iranian General Qasem Solemani and others at Baghdad airport. The general is accused of being a ‘terrorist’; others point out he’d played a key role in the defeat of ISIS. 
  • 8th: Believing it was a hostile target, Iranian forces mistakenly shoot down a Ukrainian Airlines flight shortly after take-off from Tehran airport: all 176 people on board are killed. 
  • 24th: The same week that China goes public about what is called ‘the Wuhan Virus’, and the Chinese authorities impose a ‘lockdown’ in the city of Wuhan, the World Economic Forum is meeting in Davos, Switzerland. At a press conference in Davos, CEPI (The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovations) calls for urgent international action to develop vaccines for the new virus, even though at that time there were only around 20 deaths

Throughout the month: Bushfires rage in Australia exacting a terrible toll on wildlife, with around 3 billion animals affected. 

It’s been the mildest January since records began in many European countries, with practically no snow in those great winter cities of Moscow, St Petersburg, Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen. On 2nd, one Norwegian village records a temperature of 19Celcius, the warmest January temperature ever recorded in Scandinavia.  


Snow finally arrives in Russia and Bulgaria. 

  • 11th: The ‘Wuhan virus’ is given a new name by the World Health Organisation: ‘Covid-19’. 
  • 25th: Former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, who ruled his country for thirty years dies, aged 91. He was toppled in the ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011 having been abandoned by his long-time US ally. Some regarded him as a corrupt dictator, others say he was a bulwark against extremism
  • 27th: A Wall Street crash: The Dow Jones plunges by 4.4% its worst daily fall, amid fears connected to the Covid-19 virus and its economic impact. 

While much of the world is focusing on Coronavirus. in East Africa the biggest problem is the plague of locusts. In Kenya, a giant swarm covering 930sq miles is recorded.   


  • 9th: The whole of Italy is now in lockdown. As the month progresses Covid-19 lockdowns are imposed in many other countries too, including Britain. Two that buck the trend in Europe are Sweden and Belarus. The Swedes, in particular, are criticized for being too laid-back, but their Covid deaths per capita (700.2 in December), ends up being much lower than countries who locked down hard and early, such as Belgium (1524) Peru (1156), Italy (1015) and Spain (990). Belarus fares even better with just 129.08 deaths per capita. 
  • 4th: In Britain, Sir Keir Starmer becomes ‘Leader of the Opposition’. He spends the rest of the year supporting the Government. In other words, he understands fully what an ‘Opposition’ party in Britain is meant to do.  
  • 4th: It’s the first time since the Second World War when there is no running of the Grand National, the world’s most famous steeplechase. The cancellation, due to Britain’s unprecedented Coronavirus lockdown, deprives Tiger Roll of the chance of a historic third consecutive win in the race. In the ‘Virtual’ running, he finishes fourth. 
  • 18th: Zimbabwe marks the 40th anniversary of its independence but it does so against the backdrop of an economic crisis and food shortages, with millions of people in rural areas facing starvation.  
  • 3rd: Tanzanian President John Magufuli, a trained chemist, questions the accuracy of Covid-19 test kits after they return positive results on samples taken from a goat and a pawpaw fruit. In June he declares the  ‘corona disease’ has been vanquished thanks to prayers from his citizens and life returns to normal. Unlike in the countries whose ‘talking heads’ ridiculed Magufuli. 
  • 13th: UK Home Secretary Priti Patel says on breakfast tv ‘"I think we all recognise social distancing is here to stay. Our lives are going to be very different’. 

Yet even after this frank admission that the ‘New Normal’ is meant to be permanent, people still believe Covid-19 restrictions will soon be lifted.  

  • 25th: The death of George Floyd, a black man tragically killed during an arrest in Minneapolis leads to large demonstrations across the US and in other western countries. In Britain, politicians and public figures who condemn people for demonstrating against lockdowns and going to the beach, express their support for the protestors, indicating that the new Coronavirus very cleverly knows whether or not the mass gathering is a ‘good cause’ or not. 
  • 4th: UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announces that face coverings will be compulsory on public transport from the 15th. After questioning from a BBC Health correspondent the WHO (that's the World Health Organisation and not the rock band), does not deny that it changed its advice on face masks due to political lobbying. In the weeks that follow the mask mandate is extended to other areas. Bank robbers are absolutely delighted. 
  • 25th: A ‘major incident’ is declared by Bournemouth Council after thousands of people go to the seaside on a hot sunny day. Beachgoers are labeled ‘Covidiots’ by various commentators. But despite the hysteria, there is no spike in Covid-19 cases

Part Two to follow…    

Follow  Neil Clark @NeilClark66 and @MightyMagyar 

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