Monday, January 03, 2022

"The Pull of rhe Stars" shows how far we have come (or not) since the 1918 Spanish flu

I have just finished Emma Donoghue's 2020 book The Pull of the Stars, which paints a vivid (and rather graphic) picture of life in a Dublin maternity ward at the end of the First World War and during the height of the Spanish Flu outbreak.

Many of the flu pandemic measures are eerily reminiscent of today's. (Incidentally, Donoghue wrote the book before the COVID pandemic, so she can't he accused of cashing in.) A quick online look at some of the public health posters of the day, though, show just how different those times were.

I was particularly taken by the "Spitting spreads Spanish Influenza. Don't spit" and "Go home and go to bed until you are well" messages, and the advice that "A gauze mask is 99% proof against influenza".
It's salient to note that there were also anti-mask protests at that time:

In some ways we haven't come that far in the last hundred years.

No comments: