The only truly worldwide pandemic to cause such destruction before coronavirus was the Spanish Flu outbreak that lasted from 1918 to 1920.
A type of influenza affected an estimated 500 million people, or almost one-third of the world’s population, after breaking out towards the conclusion of World War One and quickly spreading over the globe.
Between 20 and 50 million people are estimated to have perished as a result of the catastrophe, which began in Europe and spread to the United States and portions of Asia.
In a single year, more people died than during the whole Black Death, which lasted from 1347 to 1351.
Around 10-20% of people infected died, and by the time it was eliminated, the pandemic had hit almost every country on the planet.
There was a lot of conjecture at the time, much like there is now about how the Covid-19 pandemic originated.
As Spain was one of the first countries to be hit, it was dubbed “Spanish Flu.”
Despite the fact that many other European countries had outbreaks around the same time, Spain, unlike its neighbours, was not subject to the wartime news blackouts that kept the actual extent of the disease hidden from the majority of the population.
Alfonso XIII, Spain’s king, is said to have caught the illness.
One peculiar feature of the disease was that it infected many young individuals who had previously been healthy and were not in danger of periodic outbreaks.
Many World War One troops were particularly affected, and more US soldiers died from influenza than were killed in combat throughout the war.
A shocking 40% of the US Navy and 36% of the Army were infected.
Many men returning home from Europe’s battlefields, fatigued by the fighting, and traveling on packed ships and trains aided in the fast spread of the virus throughout the globe.
Another similarity between the recent coronavirus outbreak and the present outbreak is that there was no evident remedy.
In an attempt to control the spread, social isolation was used, much as it is now.
Schools, restaurants, and shops were shuttered, and public gatherings were prohibited, while residents were advised to isolate and quarantine themselves.
These measures lasted months in various parts of the world, but the effects were sometimes disastrous in places that ended social distancing too soon.
Some cities fared worse than others throughout the crisis.
Even as the epidemic spread and hundreds of people were infected, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, did not cancel a World War One victory parade.
While in St. Louis, the lockdown was lifted too soon, resulting in a second increase in deaths.
Because people were more acclimated to epidemics in the early twentieth century, it was simpler to impose lockdown than it is today, according to Markel.
Many people were infected by a serious polio outbreak in 1916, and comparable outbreaks of diptheria, whooping cough, measles, chickenpox, and smallpox also occurred at this time.
People watched the sickness infiltrate their communities at the time, he continued, and they mostly obeyed the regulations.
At the time, there was a concern of individuals downplaying the situation by distributing fake news, just as there is now.
Many governments did not want to demoralize their citizens in the aftermath of a terrible world war, therefore they did not inform them of the full scope of the issue.
The United Kingdom was no stranger to censorship, with the 1914 Defence of the Realm Act ensuring that much of the press remained silent about the war’s actual atrocities while millions of people were murdered.
During the period, a variety of bogus “cure” products were marketed, with many of them causing more harm than benefit.
In an advertisement for their “Indian Cure,” one pharmaceutical maker in Newcastle cheerfully created fear by claiming that 5,000 local youngsters were out of school with flu and two had died on the way.
The ad stated: “Don’t put it off any longer! Do it right now! It’s possible that tomorrow may be too late! Bottles are in short supply! We only have a limited number of them available.”
Other precautions were taken to try to stop the spread.
Camphor, an organic substance derived from camphor trees, was one of them.
To fight against the illness, people would frequently put a bag of camphor around their necks.
Doctors and nurses would even use a hypodermic needle to inject it into an infected patient’s arms and legs.
They weren’t entirely wrong, as camphor is still an active component in many cold treatments today, including Vicks VapoRub, but in considerably lower dosages than those used during the crisis.
Gargling seawater, donning masks, and eating oranges were among the other early measures.
Some parents would display posters prohibiting strangers from kissing their children.
At the time, the Spanish Flu had infiltrated every facet of life.
“I had a little bird/ its name was Enza/ I opened the window/ And in-flu-enza,” went a popular nursery rhyme in the UK at the time.
Many influential people were infected, including British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, cartoonist Walt Disney, US President Woodrow Wilson, Mahatma Gandhi, and German Kaiser Wilhelm II.
In the United Kingdom, 228,000 individuals have been infected, and the sickness is spreading rapidly.
Those who appeared healthy and fine at breakfast may be dead by the end of the day.
Some victims developed pneumonia and began turning blue, indicating a lack of oxygen, within hours after experiencing the initial signs of tiredness, fever, and headache.
The illness would then choke them to death as they struggled for air.
Let us know your opinions in the comments.