Before the Coronavirus, Malta had been hit hard by a number of other life-threatening diseases such as the Plague and the Spanish Flu. On today’s topic, we are going to cover the Spanish flu and what it was like at the time.
This pandemic had wiped out 5% of the world population. There were strange warnings such as not to spit on the floor and to allow sunlight in the room. Malta wasn't immune either and when the flu hit the island and there were various information campaigns and quarantine was ensured.
The first Case That Hit the Island
The pandemic reached the Maltese islands in May of 1918. 16K cases were reported in the 12 months but influenza but probably had affected a little over 50k people. The death rate reached 1000 people, and 1 in 10 was recorded in Gozo. Considering the time, when the population was much lower than today... that's quite a number!
The villages that were most affected by this disease were Valletta, Floriana, Hamrun, Caspicusa (Bormla), Vittoriosa (Birgu), Senglea (Isla), and Zejtun.
Schools remained closed and other public areas were disinfected.
Albert Bernard, who at the time acted as the Chief Government Medical Officer, recommended that schools remain closed to control the spread of the Spanish Flu.
The Government ordered every cinema and places of entertainment to be kept clean and ventilated, however, this did not exceed the capacity to prevent overcrowding. They had the places disinfected daily and schools were to be kept clean. The public health was given the right to close any premises that weren’t kept clean.
The most affected by the Spanish Flu in the island were the ages between 20 to 40, mostly women who would have been infected by their children since at the time, women used to care for children and their nutritional intake was poor, women were in much higher risk.
At the time, there were the railway services that used to run from Valletta to Hamrun, Birkirkara, Attard and Rabat which it was suspected it was a major factor for spreading the flu.
The severe cases were forcibly isolated at home or the Infectious Disease Hospital. All cases that occurred in the Charitable Institutions, prisons and ships in the harbour were isolated at the infectious Disease Hospital at Manoel Island.
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