- "It started as rioting, and right from the beginning you knew this was different. Because it was happening in small villages, market towns. And then it wasn't on the TV anymore; it was in the street outside, it was coming through your windows. By the time they tried to evacuate the cities, it was already too late; the infection was everywhere. The army blockades were overrun. And that's when the exodus started. We didn't hear anything more after that."
- ―Selena tells Jim the history of the outbreak
After the Animal Freedom Front freed chimpanzees infected with the Rage Virus from the Cambridge Primate Research Centre one night, the Infection began to spread through Cambridge over the night. The media misinterpreted the damage, death and destruction the Rage Virus was causing throughout Cambridge as rioting. (28 Days Later: The Aftermath)
The next day, the Rage Virus reached Cherry Hinton Hall and was causing major backup throughout Cambridge. The Infection also spread down into London on this day, with the Infected attacking and pursuing civilians in the streets and lanes. (28 Days Later: The Aftermath) In the following days, the media continued to regard the Infected's rampage as rioting, but the public discredited this belief after the Infected began attacking small villages and market towns. (28 Days Later (film))
Later during the outbreak, much of London for as far as Regent's Park (and presumably many other cities throughout mainland Britain) was under attack by the Infected. British Prime Minister Tony Blair declared a state of emergency, and martial law was imposed. (28 Days Later: The Aftermath) On around the next day, water, and presumably other basic services, failed throughout London, and presumably many other parts of mainland Britain. (28 Days Later (film)) As the chaos escalated and the Rage Virus spread, many of the uninfected populance tried to evacuate Britain, but train stations such as King's Cross and Paddington Station were inundated and were quickly overrun by the Infected. (28 Days Later (film), 28 Days Later: The Aftermath)
The British Army set up military blockades in and around cities such as London and Manchester to protect them from the Infected. Despite the efforts of the British Army to stop the Infection, the military blockades in London were overrun by the Infected, forcing the collapsing Army and government to abandon the city. (28 Days Later (film), 28 Days Later: The Aftermath)
With the military blockades overrun, a mass exodus of the uninfected British people was ordered, causing global chaos. During this time, shops closed throughout the country, all the roads surrounding London were gridlocked, and Scotland began to suffer power cuts. (28 Days Later (film)) Also, experts and scientists from the CDC began to fly to Britain to assist in attempts to locate an antidote for Infection. (28 Days Later (comic series))
On Day 15 of the outbreak, mainland Britain was quarantined by NATO and the United Nations to prevent the Rage Virus from spreading beyond Britain, and several American military quarantine camps were erected throughout the country. (28 Weeks Later, 28 Days Later: The Aftermath) The British government, Police, and most of the Army collapsed shortly after, and services in Britain such as power and broadcasting ceased. (28 Days Later (film)) UN refugee camps were erected throughout Europe for refugees and survivors who had escaped Britain during the exodus, (28 Days Later (film), 28 Weeks Later, 28 Days Later (comic series)) and a US military research centre was opened on the Isle of Wight to locate a possible cure for the Rage Virus. (28 Days Later (comic series))
The day before broadcasts in the country ceased, there were reports that the Infection had surfaced in Paris, France, and New York, US (28 Days Later (film)). However, these reports were presumably false. On Day 15 of the outbreak, there was also mass paranoia in the US of Infection spreading to America. The irrational panic, after a woman sneezed, and the people around, believing her infected, caused a stampede, with a thousand victims death. The FAA eventually redirected American air carriers from flying to Great Britain to enforce the Quarantine and grounded all international air travel. (28 Days Later (comic series)).
Some time after most of the British Army collapsed, (28 Days Later (comic series)) the Infected were able to breach and overrun the military blockades surrounding Manchester, entering and overrunning the city. (28 Days Later (film)) Fires were deliberately started throughout Manchester to drive the Infected out into the countryside, but without any fire crews to stop the blaze, the fires engulfed and destroyed the entire city, (28 Days Later (comic series)) in the process leaving the surrounding countryside swarming with hundreds of Infected that had fled the fires. (28 Days Later (film))
By Day 28 of the outbreak, Great Britain ceased to exist as a nation, (28 Days Later (comic series)) and mainland Britain had been fully destroyed by the Rage Virus. (28 Weeks Later) Aside from the Infected, most of the remaining population were survivors scattered across former Britain, and little to no remnants of organised society remained.
As long as two - seven months after the outbreak, while nearly all of the Infected in mainland England had died of starvation, there were still many newly-Infected further north, and thus much of mainland Scotland was still infected. The Infection was also able to spread from mainland Britain to the Shetland Islands during this time, and villages on the Islands such as Sumburgh were overrun and Shetland quarantined.
While some towns and cities in Scotland such as Halkirk and Inverness were swarming with Infected, others such as Glasgow and Edinburgh had survived the outbreak (but were not left intact) and were locked in a state of war with one another over resources. There were small bands of survivors all over Britain (mainly in Scotland), many of whom had formed into gangs and groups of bandits who were often desperate for food and resources. (28 Days Later (comic series))
Effect on the rest of the world
The Original Outbreak in Great Britain had a heavy effect on other countries. During the outbreak, the mass exodus of the uninfected people from Britain caused global chaos, (28 Days Later (film)) and there was mass paranoia in the United States of Infection spreading to America. Tourism in Europe dropped due to the outbreak in Britain, and in France, (a month or more after the outbreak) the French began culling seagulls which flew into Europe from across the English Channel, out of paranoia of Rage spreading to France from Britain through avian transmission. (28 Days Later (comic series))