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The Coronavirus pandemic has spread across the globe at an alarming rate, overwhelming many governments who simply were not prepared for what hit them. The virus is spread from human to human by touch, inhalation of infected airborne water droplets people coughed out of their mouths, and people touching objects infected people had touched earlier. It’s well depicted here in the 1995 film Outbreak scene at the cinema.
Many people don’t realise the danger they are in by flouting the emergency laws most countries have put in place. It’s that age old stupid belief that some have, whereby the speed limit doesn’t apply to them, they can park where they like, nobody tells me where to go or what to do. In short, a very small minority of humans are putting the lives of others at risk because they believe they are better than the rest of us.
Then we have the thoughtless among us. Here it’s not about I’m above the law, it’s about simply not being aware of what their actions may do to others.
A pandemic is an epidemic on a global scale. The Coronavirus has obviously moved across the world quickly because of our ability to hop on a plane in Chicago and be in London in a few hours, spreading our virus to many on-board the plane, at both airports and throughout our travels in Chicago and in London.
However, how does our current pandemic scenario theory bear up when compared to the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918? In 1918 the pandemic killed an estimated 50 million people, and some experts argue it was as high as 100 million deaths. But in 1918, at the end of a World War, travel was limited and only railways within the physical bounds of a country and sailing across the seas and oceans on ships was possible. There was no quick air transport system, yet the 1918 pandemic spread very rapidly. Why?
Despite the name given to this outbreak, the Spanish Flu, it actually started in Kansas, America.
In April 1917 the USA joined the global struggle that was World War 1. The belligerents in Europe had been fighting a bitter and entrenched campaign since 1914. Massive numbers of troops were being moved across Europe. In 1917, America needed to mobilize and start training its troops. One such training camp was Camp Funston in Fort Riley, Kansas where in March 1918 100 troops became ill with a mystery flu like virus.
By April 1918 the first mentions of the flu are being made in newspapers in America. The following month, May 1918, hundreds of thousands of troops were being shipped overseas to Europe where they are deployed across many battlefields.
By September 1918 a second wave of flu outbreaks hits America, this wave proving deadlier than the first wave. In November 1918 the end of the first world war sees celebrations break out across Europe and a mass movement of troops and people alike as they make their way home. It’s this massive movement of people across continents that is the key to the spread of the Spanish Flu. Like now, where we are seeing a massive number of people moving daily across the planet, using a cheap and relatively easy form of transport, the commercial airliner. In 1917-18 it was a mass movement by sea and rail that moved the people in such huge numbers that became their undoing.
In total it is estimated 675,000 Americans lost their lives to the Spanish Flu. Across the world, the Spanish Flu death toll was devastating and more died from the flu virus than did during four years of world war.
I only hope our current Covid-19 flu outbreak is less devastating than the Spanish Flu proved to be 102 years ago.
Copyright © Tom Kane 202