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We Overcame the Spanish Flu We Shall overcome COVID Too


One would be wrong to think that COVID 19 is the first plague to attack the whole world! We were in a similar situation in the past, we overcame and there we are once again, and we will overcome. Of course, it has been a tough time economically to many, but we cannot afford to lose hope and give up. Standing firm in confronting and battling the pandemic by obeying directives as per the Ministry of health is what will see us overcome this pandemic.


It is over a century since the world found itself in a similar pandemic. In 1918 Spanish flu struck the universe. It is unclear where the flu first occurred, but some reports claim it originated from the US while others suggest it originated from china then spread to the rest of the earth. The flu found its way to our country from returning veterans who docked at the port of Mombasa and within nine months it had claimed the lives of 150,000 people. The dreadful disease further resulted in social and economic disruptions ranging from social distancing to suspension of non-essential services, paralyzed administrative operations, widespread food shortages, commercial losses, and overwhelmed health sector.




Nothing is permanent and with concerted effort and resilience we shall overcome and COVID will remain as history.

Synonymous with COVID 19, the Spanish flu affected the old more than the young people, and its transmission propelled due to overcrowding. To tackle the pandemic, colonial authorities developed guidelines for healthcare workers, including social distancing, personal hygiene practices, and medical treatment to reduce community transmission.

Healthy people were told to avoid contact with sick individuals and to take prophylactic remedies, such as gargling with potassium permanganate, and oral quinine. In our present fight, the medical personnel has been supplied with personal protective equipment PPE’s to use while attending to patients.



Beds for patients with the Spanish flu. (Photo: CDC)


The Spanish flu caused untold suffering and social disruption to hundreds of thousands of locals. We may think it is a lack of medical equipment and competent medics during those times that failed but that’s not the case as currently with sophisticated equipment and highly qualified doctors COVID-19 is still a puzzle.


But what stands out is that the actions of locals, individually and collectively, contributed to the sickness and death. It is evident locals disregarded quarantine measures put by the colonial government and, in the peak of the outbreak, went to their rural villages which amplified community transmission.


In the COVID-19 pandemic, we can reflect on the Spanish flu and draw a lot of lessons from it. As it is always said that it is wise to learn from the mistakes of others. People during the flu ignored the measures put by the government and the results were catastrophic, claiming the lives of over 150,000. For us to avoid a similar fate the only way is to obey the laid down government directives: Hand washing and sanitization, maintaining social distance, and wearing face masks. Also, we learn that nothing is permanent and with concerted effort and resilience we shall overcome and COVID will remain as history.

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