This item in a Kelowna newspaper from 1918 reflects some of the measures to curb the Spanish flu that are becoming familiar to us in dealing with COVID. (Submitted)

This item in a Kelowna newspaper from 1918 reflects some of the measures to curb the Spanish flu that are becoming familiar to us in dealing with COVID. (Submitted)

Editorial: Stopping the virus spread has precedence

Newspaper item focuses on ways to curb the Spanish flu in 1918

What we’re going through with COVID-19 might be unusual to us and our way of life, but the world has seen this type of situation before.

An item recently came to our attention courtesy of Linda Tucker, president of the Chemainus Valley Historical Society that operates the Chemainus Valley Museum. She received a personal email, nothing to do with the museum per se, about an advertisement in a Kelowna newspaper from Nov. 7, 1918 (right around this time of the year 102 years ago) for interest sake.

The public notice from the Corporation of the City of Kelowna read as follows: “Notice is hereby given that, in order to prevent the spread of Spanish Influenza, all schools, public and private churches, theatres, moving picture halls, pool rooms and other places of amusement, and Lodge meetings, are to be closed until further notice. All public gatherings consisting of ten or more are prohibited.”

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The notice is dated at Kelowna, B.C. 19th October, 1918, and authorized by D.W. Sutherland, Mayor.

So, you see, there does seem to be some precedence for the handling of pandemics, even though so many are scoffing at suggestions now about closures and shutdowns.

Things are a lot more complicated today, of course, simply due to the magnitude of such actions with a much larger population than existed at the time.

But it seems the message is clear that we have to continue to be diligent to eventually eradicate viruses and, unfortunately, human behaviour – especially in today’s society – doesn’t help.

We are currently testing the limits of COVID-19 everywhere, especially with crowds gathering south of the border for the massive undertaking of the presidential election and three elections already in Canadian provinces since the pandemic began.

With what we know about COVID, the interactions among large groups of people are facilitating the spread. Until we limit those activities while keeping crucial aspects of our economy alive within reason, we’re just hurting ourselves with the virus perhaps hanging around longer.

It would be nice to have it under wraps without counting on the timing of a vaccine being available.

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