THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: From the News Letter of January 1951

Influenza epidemic ‘at its peak in Northern Ireland’, says top doctor

Friday, 22nd January 2021, 8:00 am

The Medical Superintendent Officer of Health for Belfast, Dr Samuel Barron, expressed the opinion during this week in 1951 that the epidemic of influenza in the city had reached its peak, and that in the course of another week it would be on the downward trend.

The News Letter reported that there had been 34 deaths from influenza, but that many old people had died of pneumonia.

In Londonderry, too, the epidemic was reported to have passed its peak, both among children and grown-ups.

Five Londonderry schools were closed but one was expected to reopen later that week.

In Omagh the epidemic had also reached its peak at the weekend.

Several schools had been closed because of the epidemic in the locality, reported the News Letter.

In one school only two pupils out of a possible 78 turned up at the school.

In Tyrone County Hospital so many nurses were off sick that Omagh Red Cross detachment was still providing volunteer nurses.

The John Perry Memorial (Abercorn) School in Strabane had been closed for two days because of the epidemic.

Meanwhile, Caledon petty sessions had to be postponed as the resident magistrate was ill.

Liverpool’s high death rate from influenza

The medical officer of health for Liverpool, Professor W M Frazer, stated during this week in 1951 that during the week ended January 6, that there had been more than 600 deaths in Liverpool compared with approximately 200 in the same period other years.

More than 400 of those who died had been were those of elderly people over 65.

“A considerable proportion of these deaths,” he said, “was due to the effect of the influenza epidemic.”

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