Wednesday , April 21 2021

Risk of pandemic influenza "remains high"



The centenary of the deadly impact of Spanish flu in New Zealand has warned of the risk of another flu pandemic continuing high.

The main escape from the Spanish flu occurred between October and December 1918, with New Zealand losing half the population in a few months, as it did throughout the First World War. It killed 50 million people worldwide and 9,000 people in New Zealand.

Professor Geoff Rice attended a ceremony in Wellington over the weekend to mark 100 years since the country's worst public health disaster.

The researcher said the risk of another flu pandemic remained high and if a similarly deadly infection hit New Zealand today, we could expect more than 30,000 deaths.

In 1918 cities like Wellington were paralyzed. The seats were taken from the city hall to make room for the beds, turning into a temporary hospital. The killings happened so quickly that local mail trucks, and even the city car, were used to transport bodies to the Karori cemetery.

The armistice of November 2018 only contributed to the spread of the contagion as people gathered to celebrate the end of a long war.

The world has experienced recent crises, including in 1997, with Hong Kong's bird flu and 2009 with Mexican swine flu.

Nine new strains of influenza have appeared in humans since 2000. The main lesson of the Spanish flu was not complacency, Rice said.

Matilda Wilkins married William Strachan in 1903, but he was unable to care for his five children after she died of the flu at age 35.
Matilda Wilkins married William Strachan in 1903, but he was unable to care for his five children after she died of the flu at age 35.


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