Did Submarines Bring Pandemic To The Uk?

 

DID SUBMARINES BRING PANDEMIC TO THE UK?

Our front page has often explored how the current pandemic has so many parallels with similar events, such as the Great Plague of 1665 and the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1919. The similarities in the impact they had and the responses to them are often striking and we have been able to learn much from past experiences.

President Trump was one it seems, who did not pay much attention to past events and has been widely criticised for his refusal to act decisively to deal with the coronavirus. The clues about the seriousness of the situation and the need for drastic action were there. One of the earliest victims of the Spanish flu in fact was his own grandfather, a businessman who died at the age of 49. The President of course didn’t feel it necessary to explore the lessons of the past, preferring to cite the amazing possibilities of the future, such as the fact that coronavirus could be killed by powerful light or even disinfectant!

One of the most striking similarities between historical pandemics and the current situation is the proliferation of conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories often emerge in times of crisis and as a response to an invisible and powerful enemy hiding among us. Like pandemics, conspiracy theories are contagious and we have had a fair share of them recently. Covid-19 is said by some to be caused by 5G technology and the vaccines we are so desperate for are apparently designed to implant microchips into people!

It is strangely reassuring that there is nothing new about any of this. In the 17th century, plague was often associated with witchcraft. During the 1630 plague in Milan, the combination of folk superstitions and widespread anxiety led to the trial, torture and execution of two citizens falsely accused of spreading the pestilence. The most famous remedy for the Russian Flu in the1890s was the carbolic smoke ball. These were manufactured in London and widely advertised. The balls released a “smoke” of finely ground phenol powder (an ingredient commonly used in soaps at the time) that would be inhaled through the nostrils.

The company that manufactured this treatment promised that it would prevent customers from catching the Russian flu. And if the product failed, the company promised to refund its customers. In December 1891, Mrs. Elizabeth Carlill purchased one of those products and used it on multiple occasions. Then she succumbed to the epidemic. Because the carbolic smoke balls failed to work, Carlill and her husband filed a claim with the Carbolic Smoke Ball Company, but it was ignored. In 1892, the couple took their case to court. In the case of Carlill v. Carbolic Smoke Ball Company, the court found that Mrs. Carlill was entitled to the money and that the Carbolic Smoke Ball Company was in breach of contract for failing to pay her upon submitting the claim.

By the time of the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1919 conspiracy theories had become more sophisticated. Having recently been at war with Germany, the Germans were prime targets for the conspiracy theorists. The most colourful perhaps was the belief in the UK, United States and much of South America, that German submarines were responsible for the virus, with one New York Times article quoting a US army official who suggested that the influenza had been planted on the country’s East coast by “enemy agents”. The German pharmaceutical company Bayer, found itself in the firing line amid suspicions that the flu was spread in aspirin. The front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer went further, citing the expert opinion of Lt. Col. Philip S. Doane, head of the health sanitarian section of the Emergency Fleet Corporation. The Germans, it reported, had stolen into Boston harbour in U-boats, come ashore secretly and let loose vials filled with the deadly germs in theatres and other crowded places

 



 

Covid Article Stirs Many Memories

JANUARY’S FRONT PAGE ARTICLE STIRS MANY MEMORIES


January’s front page article about the smallpox epidemic in South Wales brought back memories for me. I had just started grammar school and after school, the whole of our family trooped to the doctor’s surgery, joining the queue to get our smallpox vaccinations. When we finished, we went to Ely to look at caravans for our summer holiday. I did not feel very well (probably needed food) and felt the whole thing was a bit of a drag.

My mother was a nurse, working 3 nights a week at Lansdowne Hospital, which was an isolation hospital. As she worked with infectious diseases, she was selected to be sent to the smallpox hospital in the Valleys if the disease took off. My parents must have been worried as I was the eldest of 4 children. How would Dad cope without her? But there was no hesitation; nursing was a vocation, and she was willing to play her part. Just like the hundreds of medics in today’s NHS who are working so hard to help people suffering from Covid-19.

I remember her explaining to us children that she may have to go away for a while and would not be able to come home. As we all know, the vaccination programme worked, halting the progress of smallpox in South Wales and our family escaped the ordeal of separation. Until I read the What’s On article this was all a dim and distant memory to me. Hopefully that will also happen with Covid-19 in due course

 

Annie Bennett

 



 

Echoes From The Past!

ECHOES FROM THE PAST!


 

“The street crowd surged—but

where to go?

The bar? The concert? Movies?

No!

Old Influenza’s locked the door to

Pleasure Land.

Oh what a bore!”

Edna Groff Diehl, 1918

 

 

“The toothpaste didn’t taste right— Spanish Flu!

The bath soap burned my eyes—Spanish Flu!

My beard seemed to have grown pretty fast and tough overnight—

Spanish Flu!”

Anonymous – Winnipeg Tribune, 1918

 

Gunner Ivor John Hiley, the son of a Barry butcher, survived three years fighting in France during the Great War. He had arrived at Newport railway station, on leave from the Royal Field Artillery and walked the eight miles (13km) home to Pontypool by midnight. By the morning he was already showing signs of flu and died within days on December 16, just a month after Armistice Day. His wife and young daughter had already succumbed to the deadly ‘Spanish flu’ pandemic. In Wales the official death toll was 8,750; globally over 50 million died.

The Vale of Glamorgan suffered less than other parts of Wales. Only 78 people died in Barry, the second lowest death rate in Wales. Things were bad in Cardiff where the worst of the epidemic started in October. Doctors were struggling to cope and some schools were closed. It appeared worse in the poorer and the more overcrowded parts of Cardiff. South Cardiff – which included the docks – had the highest death rate – 29.9 per 1,000. Army labour corps were drafted in to dig graves. There were reports of bodies being transported in carts from the docks. Delirious with fever, one man fell to his death from his bedroom window.

Unlike today, the epidemic did not affect the older generation quite as much. Of the deaths in the city, 44% involved younger adults, aged 25 to 45. It is thought that older people had possibly gained more immunity as a result of a similar pandemic in 1889.

Responses to the 1918-19 pandemic were also familiar. Precautionary leaflets were issued with advice including urging people to avoid sneezing and coughing, to boil handkerchiefs and take to bed in a well-ventilated room. Every effort was made to stop people gathering together. Schools and cinemas were closed but just like today some people ignored the pleas. Social distancing proved difficult in the Welsh mining communities where the sense of neighbourliness and community spirit was strong. One physician, Dr Jenkins, lamented the ‘well intentional but ill-advised custom of neighbourly inter-visitation between the occupants of infected and unaffected houses’. There was also the habit of spitting ‘still prevalent in most communities’- a by-product of working with coal.

As today, some people failed to understand the situation or heed warnings. In March 1919, Aberavon Council ordered the closing of premises of Messrs. Gibbons because a room above their shop, sufficient in size for 18 people and with no through ventilation, had been used by 170 people to hold a séance!

The1919 pandemic eventually waned and gloom was replaced with a spirit of optimism. Gradually things returned to normal and economic prosperity resumed. Encouragingly perhaps, the next decade is often remembered as the ‘Jazz Age’ or the ‘Roaring Twenties.’ Of course we also have one massive advantage today – several effective vaccines!

 



 

Vaccines To The Rescue …..Once Again!


VACCINES TO THE RESCUE …..ONCE AGAIN!


On 13 January 1962 Shuka Mia arrived in Cardiff on a train from Birmingham. He’d flown into Britain the day before on a plane from Pakistan, where a smallpox epidemic had claimed hundreds of lives that winter. On arrival in the city centre, the traveller – and the virus – made their way through the centre of Cardiff to the place where he’d arranged to stay. Though he carried a vaccination certificate, he brought the deadly virus to Wales. The disease he was carrying was one of the most horrific known to man. Although it has now been eradicated, in 1962 it was still rife in many parts of the world. A day after he arrived at the Calcutta Restaurant in Bridge Street, a GP was called to see Shuka Mia who was in bed upstairs. The doctor suspected smallpox. The patient was taken to the Lansdowne isolation hospital, where specialist Dr John Pathy saw him the next morning and confirmed the diagnosis. As the news broke that smallpox was in the city, a desperate search began for anyone who may have been in contact with the carrier.

Shuka Mia was sent to the top of a mountain above the Rhondda where he was shut away from the outside world. All that remains of the Penrhys smallpox hospital on its windswept hilltop are the high walls which surrounded it. But during the crisis of 1962, 12 patients were isolated there as doctors fought to control the outbreak.

The reaction of the authorities was strikingly familiar to that today. In Cardiff a huge operation was mounted to trace contacts and to vaccinate anyone who might have been in contact with Shuka Mia – either in the city or on the train that brought him to Wales. But thousands of people demanded vaccination and sometimes tempers flared. Over the next few weeks, 900,000 people in Wales were vaccinated against smallpox. Extra supplies of vaccine were brought in from as far away as Argentina.

The quick and decisive action of the authorities seemed to work. No one in Cardiff or the Vale became ill and for more than a month it seemed the smallpox scare was over. Then, out of the blue, a consultant at East Glamorgan Hospital Dr Robert Hodkinson became seriously ill. He was the only doctor in the hospital who decided not to get vaccinated and he died. It turned out he contracted small pox through a woman in the Rhondda he had treated, who died in childbirth. Other members of her family were also fatally affected. It was and still is a mystery how a heavily pregnant woman in Maerdy in Ferndale, way up in the Rhondda, got it from Cardiff. Six people died in the Rhondda and smallpox was about to be declared as over when days later 12 more people were inexplicably found to have contracted small pox and died in Glanrhyd hospital in Bridgend.

There is of course a strong link to this story and the development of Covid 19 vaccines today. The technique of variolation or deliberately infecting a patient with a mild dose of smallpox in the expectation that it would provide protection from a more severe infection had been used in China, India and Turkey long before Edward Jenner started his clinical trials in 1796. Jenner’s though was the first successful scientific attempt to control an infectious disease (small pox) by the deliberate use of vaccination. Jenner is rightly praised for his pioneering science. He also deserves recognition for his advancement of the idea that vaccination should be free at the point of delivery and available to everyone. Jenner considered himself the ‘Vaccine Clerk to the World’ arguing that ‘the Sciences are never at war.’ He realised that the eradication of small pox would, as in the case of Covid 19, require a global response. Finally, what of Shuka Mia? Well possibly as a result of already having been vaccinated, he survived small pox and returned home to his family.

 



 

Support 1st Wenvoe Scout Group

SUPPORT 1ST WENVOE SCOUT GROUP

Sadly as some of you are already aware due to Covid-19 restrictions, Cardiff and Vale Scout Post has been cancelled this year. We realise that some of you use this to spread greetings to friends as well as supporting the local Scouts. Instead we at 1st Wenvoe Scout Group rely on this fantastic fundraiser to raise more than £2000 each year to support developing #SkillsForLife for Young People in our Wenvoe community. If you usually buy stamps from us and are able to continue to support us this year, you can make a donation directly on https://www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/Scoutpost. We would appreciate you naming 1st Wenvoe when asked if you would like to support a particular Group. Thank you

 

In addition, 1st Wenvoe Scout Group is running a local fundraising campaign by selling Christmas patterned face-coverings and Christmas treats. The masks are hand made by volunteers out of cotton and come in adult and 2 small and large children’s sizes. They come in a variety of Christmas patterns. Please support us and help spread cheer by pre-ordering the face masks and baubles. Please note patterns may vary depending on available material.

Face coverings are £5 each and Christmas tree baubles filled with Smarties or Skittles are a bargain at £1 each.

Contact me at jfm@fenton-may.org /07787510179 and you will be sent information about how to pay for your order by PayPal. Once made, your item will be delivered locally. Postage can be arranged but must be paid in advance. Last orders Friday 18 December

Jane Fenton-May

 

 

 



 

Temporary Coronavirus Testing Site

Temporary coronavirus testing site is to open in Barry

A walk-in COVID-19 testing facility is to open in Barry town centre in response to rapidly rising case numbers in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

For more information Click below to go to this Vale of Glamorgan website

 

https://www.valeofglamorgan.gov.uk/en/our_council/press_and_communications/latest_news/2020/November/Temporary-coronavirus-testing-site-to-open-in-Barry.aspx

 



 

Always Look On The Bright Side

 

 

ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE

While we are all hoping to avoid a local lockdown, self-isolation or quarantine, in true British fashion we seem to be making the best of things. We are already getting used to life with coronavirus and of course most of the current restrictions are nothing new

Although in the past it may have been a self-imposed or voluntary separation from society, in more recent times quarantine has come to represent a compulsory action enforced by health authorities. The Welsh Government of course is not the first to wrestle with this problem. During the 14th century, in an effort to protect coastal cities from plague epidemics, ships arriving in Venice from infected ports were required to sit at anchor for 40 days before landing. This practice, called quarantine, was derived from the Italian words quaranta giorni which mean 40 days.

Ancient civilizations relied on isolating the sick, well before the actual microbial causes of disease were known. In times when treatments for illnesses were rare and public health measures few, physicians and lay leaders, beginning as early as the ancient Greeks, turned to quarantine to contain a scourge. The practice is even recorded in the Old Testament where several verses mention isolation for those with leprosy. Closer to home the Quarantine Act was passed in England in 1710, which stipulated a sentence of death for persons not respecting the compulsory 40-day quarantine for humans and goods arriving here suspected or known to have been in contact with the plague.

Perhaps the best known individual example of quarantine, pitting an individual’s civil liberties against public protection, is the story of Mary Mallon, aka “Typhoid Mary”. An asymptomatic carrier of typhoid fever in the early 20th century, she never felt sick but nevertheless spread the disease to families for whom she worked as a cook. Officials quarantined Mary on North Brother Island in New York City. Released after three years, she promised never to cook for anyone again. Breaking her promise and continuing to spread the disease, she was returned to North Brother Island, where she remained for the remainder of her life in isolation.

So, beyond the usual online fitness sessions, reading those books we have never got around to, or holding a Zoom quiz, what can do to keep ourselves entertained if we suddenly have to self-isolate? While staying indoors, we can at least turn to the internet.

How about a virtual tour of bucket-list attractions like Machu Picchu and the Taj Mahal? You could take a virtual field trip of the Kennedy Space Centre or maybe follow a livestream of an Australian koala. If music is your thing how about tuning in to the live concerts performed at the Royal Albert Hall, which as a planned programme online. If you prefer rock, Metallica have a similar programme and if you are feeling a little more laid back try Neil Young or Nora Jones. You can keep up to date with what’s happening via websites like billboard.com.

You could even join in the latest way to socialise with friends over video chat, by holding your own Quarantini Happy Hour. Simply stated, a quarantini is a cocktail (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) made from whatever ingredients you have on hand at home. The easiest way is to make variants of classic cocktails based on one-ingredient substitutions. One expert cited a Negroni, with equal proportions of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. When gin was swapped out for whiskey, the Boulevardier was invented. Jane Danger, the national mixologist for Pernod Ricard suggests starting by selecting your spirit of choice and base your “sweet” and “sour” upon it. “Ransack your cupboard. Dried herbs and spices make great salts and sugars which you can grind together and use to rim the glass.” So with lots of suggestions online, why not have a go?

 



 

They Think It’s All Over

They Think It’s All Over

They think that it’s all over, this virus put to bed

“Don’t listen to the science, it’s party hard instead!

We’re young and fit and in our prime

The old and frail have had their time.

So we’ll all flock to the beaches, Go drinking in the park,

We’ll litter lots of beauty spots and party after dark”.

I pray that it’s all over and Corona’s put to bed,

But fear has not ended, simply waiting to rear its head,

With Winter fast approaching, dark days and nights descend,

This vaccine can’t come soon enough, to bring Covid an end.

Please learn the lockdown lessons, our heroes’ selfless acts,

Just take the time to ponder and listen to the facts.

Stop the sacrifice of many, being squandered by the few,

So that, they’re lucky, the young can grow old too!

 

Beverly Mackintosh

 



 

Treat Our Masks Like Our Undies

COUNCIL URGES US TO TREAT OUR MASKS LIKE OUR UNDIES

A year ago we couldn’t possibly have imagined that while going about our normal business the wearing of masks would be a common sight. Of course we are used to seeing masks in all sorts of contexts and we seem fairly relaxed about being told to wear them.

Masks have a long and often strange history, particularly in popular culture. In Ancient Greece masks worn by actors had brass megaphones to amplify what actors were saying. When an Indonesian Topang dancer dies, his used masks are never moved from where they were at the time of his death. In the 17th century people believed the plague could be carried by poisoned air or miasma. Plague doctors covered themselves head to toe and wore a mask shaped like a bird’s beak. Perfumes and spices held under the masks were said to neutralise the miasma.

It was not until the late 19th century that masks were being worn in operating theatres. This process was accelerated by their use to protect medical workers during the Manchurian plague of 1910–11 and the influenza pandemic of 1918–19. During the latter the safety measures taken were very similar to those today. The United States for example, closed churches, soda fountains, theatres, movie houses, department stores and barber shops. The amount of space allocated to people in public spaces was regulated. There were however fines against coughing, sneezing, spitting, kissing and even talking outdoors. Some Americans went to prison for refusing to wear masks or not paying fines and a health inspector shot a blacksmith for refusing an order to wear one. All this led to masks becoming unpopular and an Anti-Mask League being formed in San Francisco.

Back in the UK, smog in our industrial cities was a further example of something which led to mask wearing for public health reasons, until The Clean Air Act (1956) began to improve matters.

 

This picture of a Manchester bus during the smog was taken at midday!

As late as 1965, the Beatles wore masks to counter the effects of smog on their way to a concert in the city.

 

While wearing face coverings is not ideal, it has not taken long for the demand for fashionable masks to accelerate. Hello magazine recently ran a whole feature on where to buy a stylish or fun version. You can get one of your favourite band or football team. Maybe you want to make a political point.

 

To help get the message across, Sunderland Council has issued the following advice. “Treat your mask like your undies. Dinnit touch or rive at it, especially in public. Dinnit borrow one from ya marra (mate) or lend yours to them. Mack sure it’s canny tight but comfy. Mack sure it’s the reet way round. If it’s stained or hacky, hoy it in the bin. If it’s damp or foisty, change it! Dinnit go commando!”

 



 

Nothing Is Certain But Death And Taxes

Nothing Is Certain But Death And Taxes

How many times have you heard this quote?

Unfortunately, it is true; and whilst we all have too much time on our hands, perhaps it is something that should be considered.

I can’t say I know that much about taxes, other than I pay them. But death………….

Given time to reflect on these strange times we find ourselves in, and the thousands of people who have met their death at the hands of Covid 19, death certainly raises some questions, and I mean at a practical level rather than a spiritual one.

We are all aware that at some point in our lives we will lose a loved one, or even our own life. But are we prepared? Have you decided upon your wishes, or discussed the wishes of loved ones? What about people living alone with no family to rely on? It is a difficult conversation to have, but saves a lot of heartache and worry in the long term.

Here’s some questions to consider:

Do you or your loved ones know who to contact in the event of a death?

Have you/they made a will and where is it kept?

Is a funeral plan in place, who with and where is the paperwork?

Are you aware of the type of funeral preferred (burial, cremation, religious, green etc)

Where were you/they born?

What was your/their occupation?

Marital status?

Spouse’s occupation?

Maiden name?

I appreciate that this all seems a little callous and unfeeling, but these are the questions you or your loved ones will be faced with at a very difficult time, from either your GP, paramedics, police, coroner’s office or registrars.

Other useful information would be:

GP name and address

Medical conditions

Medication

Solicitor name and address

You’ll be surprised where these conversations go.

I’ve learnt of people who want their ashes scattered at Knap Point, so family can get chips and visit them; also a relative that wants throwing off Swanage Pier, preferably when she’s passed away, special songs and hymns to be played at services and menu requests for the wake to name but a few.

But what to do and how?

One suggestion could be to consider the points above and prepare a document with all the information required and seal it in an envelope, and make your family and friends aware of its existence and location for when required.

 

Alternatively, if you have a Green Cross Container, place details of your next of kin within that, so if medical assistance is sought, the emergency services will know who to contact. You could also indicate where other documentation may be found.

I hope I haven’t distressed or depressed anyone too much, just given you something to ponder.

Blame it on Covid 19 and too much time to think about ‘what if’.

In the meantime, BE SAFE.

 



 

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