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GLOBAL INFLUENZA REPORT: LONDON

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Bill Smith is a Health Correspondent for the “The Times” in London. He sends weekly reports to the Irvine World News.For the week of 22 October to 29 October 1918.

With an end to the war on the horizon London continues to be ravaged by the Spanish Flu. As reported in The Times “The general death-rate last week increased to 41 per 1,000 of the population per annum compared with 12 at the same period last year. This is the highest death-rate for over 20 years.”1

As a result of the current drastic increase in the number of people inflicted with the flu, all sectors of Society are being gravely impacted. In many areas schools are being closed with the reasons for closure being vast, the primary reason being the effort to prevent the spread of influenza amongst pupils. In other areas schools are being closed due to a lack of healthy staff. However, some medical authorities believe that the closing of schools is unnecessary, as closing schools would “…simply release the children and allow them to congregate in places where the danger of infection is greatest. [At the moment] Efficient ventilation and segregation are considered the best means of fighting the disease.”2 In other sectors of public service, telephone services have been impacted as the complement of healthy telephonists has decreased.3 In Sleugh, as well as in many other communities, post offices have been closed, as postmasters have not been available. Additionally, Omnibus services are starting to be affected and it is expected that the number of schedule changes will increase if the outbreak is not brought under control.

More concerning is that in several areas emergency services have been greatly reduced. As of Saturday 26 October “There were stated to be 1,300 members of the Metropolitan Police Force suffering from the disease yesterday, and in 25 cases it proved fatal…. Eighty-two members of the London Fire Brigade are off duty owing to influenza.”4 Lord Nelson, of the Mayfair Community Council expressed the sentiment that he and his fellow residents are extremely distressed with the number of police and fire fighters inflicted with the flu, and that they hope that their fellow citizens will continue to be extra vigilant so that the services of these people will not be needed unnecessarily.

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