Sunday, 29 March 2020

Some good lessions from the ''Spanish Flu'' of 1918 to contain novel corona virus - follow government instructions

novel corona virus, 2020 fazilka.nic.in
The entire Indian government administration  both at the center and state levels are trying hard to contain the covid -19 outbreak in our country, the second most populous one in the world.  This pandemic  is responsible for more than  30879 deaths world wide and in India it is 24 out of 1024 confirmed cases. Currently, the USA has become the next corona epicenter with  2227 deaths  out of 124388 confirmed cases.  The worst hit is Italy where 10234 died out of 92472 confirmed cases.  The over all situation across the world is grim  and  there is no effective vaccine to end this scourge.
A similar outbreak in 1918 -Spanish Flu is an excellent  source of many important lessons  for us and other countries. Based on the past lessons, the health department can chalk out the ways and means to minimize the impact on the population. The most crucial fact is full cooperation of the public is a necessity to save the country from the mounting crisis. As for politicians, they should put their petty politics behind and cooperate with the struggling leaders in Delhi and in  various state capitals  and work with them in tandem to care for the needs and healthcare of the bewildered people in this distress situation. 
Spanish flu, 1918 www.slideshare.net
Spanish flu, 1918 www.slideshare.net
The most deadly  ‘Spanish Influenza’ of 1918  that has  many parallels to the current covid-19, was observed in the early stages in military camps during WWI.  There was suppression of the outbreak by certain warring countries and it was done to keep the morale of the fighting forces high. However, Spain that remained neutral gave the correct information on the outbreak; hence the flu got its name. 
India  under the Raj bore a huge burden of death - it lost 6% of its people; the flu  killed between 17 and 18 million Indians, more than all the casualties in World War One. One Hindi  writer and poet, Suryakant Tripathi (alias  Nirala,)  who lost his wife and some family members wrote:  My family, "disappeared in the blink of an eye" ... the  Ganges river  was  "swollen with dead bodies".  There wasn't enough firewood to cremate the piles of dead bodies.
The following are the lessons that may be relevant to the present pandemic:
01. Crowded city:  The flu landed in May/June in Bombay city (then the capital of Bombay Presidency) under the direct British crown administration.
The deadly flu got into the Bombay dock  through a ship of returning soldiers  in June 1918.  The health inspector JS Turner, said, .......''it came "like a thief in the night, its onset rapid and insidious". In the present situation, according to The Times of India report,"nearly every house in Bombay has some of its inmates down with fever" and it may go up soon.
02. Crowded railways: From  Bombay  the flu  had spread through the railways to other regions in India and the second wave began in September, 1918  in southern India and  moved  along the coastline.  
03. Poor health management: The other factors were negligence on the part of the British officials, poorly equipped hospitals and lack of doctors to handle a large number of infected  cases because most of them were in the war fronts. The suffering Indian masses were left in the lurch.
04. Failed monsoon: A  failed SW monsoon made the matters worse and  created  drought and famine-like conditions. Food grains production was affected.  With poor agricultural produce, people became  underfed, emaciated  and weak; huge gathering
in the cities  enabled the rapid spread of the disease.
05. Crowded markets, mass-gathering,etc: The source of infection is commonly crowded places. Crowded big Indian cities became  main sources of  the infection.  In the present  corvid-19 context,  medical researchers have reservation about crowded markets, bazaars, malls, mass transportation like metro, trains, etc.
In  February and March 2020 Mumbai (Bombay) has the highest number of covid-19 cases in the country.
06. Return of overseas-employed Indians: In  Kerala state, the corona infection cases and deaths are showing upward trend, part of the reason is returning employees from the Gulf countries. Kerala has the largest number of people in the Gulf states. The  central govt is also screening people returning from corona-infected countries.
07. Stay at home: The newspapers in 1918 advised people  not to spend time outside and stay at home;  the same has to be followed.  

08. Personal hygiene and social-distancingTOI says the main remedy "is to go to bed and not worry". People were reminded the disease spread "mainly through human contact by means of infected secretions from the nose and mouths"   Social-distancing got the main priority then, hence  workers  never went to work in offices and factories. 
09. Avoid over-crowded places:  As suggested by TOI to avoid the flu keep  away from  congested and overcrowded places: fairs, festivals, theaters, schools, public lecture halls, cinemas, entertainment parties, crowded railway carriages etc; the risk of infection lurks in such places. The Government's lock down 
in this regard is the right step and it is essential to follow it.
10.  Good sanitation: Indians hereon must give serious consideration to sanitation at home and in public places which 
is poor across India; No dumping of trashes in public places. 
Poor sanitation  may increase  the spread of flu and risk f
actors.
Besides above,  sleeping in the open rather than in poorly ventilated rooms,  and eating  nourishing food may help us a lot.The present  pandemic is sweeping across the globe with no solution in sight and no scientists can predict when it is going to come down and what will be the death toll. The  simple lessons from the Spanish flu  of 1918  are Stay home as much as you can and avoid crowded places and most importantly social distancing is a must. It is likely that the lock down period may last beyond April 14. A reliable person deplored the fact, despite lock down, 144  promulgation and strict warnings from the health officials, lots of foolish people  still crowded in Fish market in and around Thanjavur city and other places. They not only risk their lives, but also others, their own family members and their own children.
Corona virus precautions, etc:
Spanish flu, 1918 www.slideshare.net

gulfnews.com
gulfnews.com
gulfnews.com
gulfnews.com
https://gulfnews.com/world/flu-vs-coronavirus-which-one-is-more-dangerous-facts-that-will-blow-your-mind-1.1580923658868
 https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-10-lessons-flu-pandemic-years.html