November 9th, 1918: Relief as deaths from 1918 Spanish flu epidemic began to decline
BACK PAGES:The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, estimated to have killed more than 50 million worldwide, affected Ireland as everywhere else. In November of that year, as the first World War came to a close, it was hoped that the worst was over, although the flu continued for another two years in some places. Today’s newspaper in that year was mainly preoccupied with the armistice arrangements for the war’s end in two days’ time, but this report showed the effects of the flu in Dublin.
IT WAS authoritatively stated yesterday that the influenza epidemic in Dublin is abating. The statement was based on the fact that there are very few fresh cases within the past few days. Caution in preventing the spread of the disease is, however, still necessary.
Sir Charles Cameron gave some interesting figures yesterday based on inquiries made by him regarding the number of deaths from influenza, and the ages at which they occurred. The inquiries were made from dispensary medical officers and general practitioners.
On the whole, he stated, there was a decline. The South-East Dispensary District showed an increase on Wednesday, there being 22 deaths; but the number fell the next day to 16. From the beginning of the epidemic [in the summer of 1918] up to a few days ago there were due to the disease 376 deaths in the city. Of these 54 were under five years of age; 24 between five and 10 years of age; 11 between 10 and 15 years of age; 30 between 15 and 20 years of age; 34 between 20 and 25 years of age; 75 between 25 and 30 years of age; 85 between 30 and 40 years of age; 44 between 40 and 50 years of age; 20 between 50 and 60 years of age; 19 between 60 and 70 years of age; seven from 70 years and upward.
The population of the total registration area, comprising the four townships [suburbs], was, in 1911, 409,000, and the population of the city alone 312,747. The ages of persons who have died in the city are not given separately, but in age periods.
“Since the population of the city is, roughly, three-fourths of that of the total registration area, the public can form their own idea,” he stated, “of the relative proportion of deaths occurring in the city and in the others parts of the metropolitan district.”
The staffs at Glasnevin and Mount Jerome [cemeteries] are still being kept busy owing to the abnormal demands for burial accommodation. At Glasnevin there were 50 burials up to noon yesterday, and 41 orders were received for burials today. There were nine burials at Mount Jerome Cemetery yesterday.
Dr M Russell, assistant superintendent medical officer of health, has reported to the Lord Mayor that from interviews which he has had with dispensary medical officers, it is safe to state that the epidemic is on the decline. The number of deaths registered by them this week, so far, was less than last week. The number of patients removed to hospital this week by the corporation ambulances was considerably less than last week. The number of deaths at present, though high, was due in a great many instances to cases suffering from the illness for the past fortnight . . .
The registrar general’s return for the week ending Saturday, November 2nd, shows that the deaths from all causes appertaining to the undermentioned areas for last week and for the past four weeks, respectively, were equal to the following annual rates per 1,000 of the population: 19 town districts, 34.9 and 25.4: Dublin registration area, 65.5 and 44: Dublin city, 72.3 and 45.5: Belfast, 17.5 and 14.1: Cork, 17 and 14.6: Londonderry, 40.4 and 24.4: Limerick, 17.6 and 16.3: and Waterford, 38.0 and 26.1 . . .
There were 250 deaths from influenza, being equivalent to an annual rate of 32.7 per 1,000 of the population, and of these 210 belonged to the city.