Manitoba has experience with pandemics – Winnipeg Free Press

AS the virus spread, all Manitoba schools were ordered to close, theatres went dark, church services were dropped and all public meetings were cancelled.

Seem familiar?

The measures listed above were taken from headlines of Manitoba newspapers 102 years ago, as the province was hit by the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919. These same actions have been taken in the past couple of weeks as Manitoba tries to curtail the novel coronavirus that causes the illness called COVID-19.

Although the two pandemics are separated by a century, a comparison shows several important parallels with the current crisis in Manitoba. The similarities are intriguing; the differences can be instructive.

First, an important caution: no reputable public health expert is saying the coronavirus pandemic will approach anywhere near the magnitude of the 1918 influenza, which killed 50 million people worldwide. Medical science has improved considerably since treatments for the 1918 influenza included arsenic, mercury, strychnine and even bloodletting.

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