Historical photo highlights City of Kelowna’s response to 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic

This isn’t the first time the City of Kelowna has been asked to practise physical distancing

For weeks health officials across B.C. have been urging people to stay inside and practise physical distancing in an effort to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Although, this isn’t the first time the City of Kelowna has been under such restrictions. In 1918, the world was ravaged by the deadliest pandemic in history, the Spanish Flu.

READ MORE: Outbreak of COVID-19 at West Kelowna agricultural business; 14 cases confirmed

D.W. Sutherland, the mayor of Kelowna in 1918 issued a public notice banning all gathering of more than 10 people in an effort to limit the spread of the deadly virus.

The public notice issued by the City of Kelowna on Thursday, Nov. 7, 1918 reads:

“Notice is hereby given that, in order to prevent the spread of the 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.”

According to History.com, the Spanish Flu infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide, which is about one-third of the planet’s population. It killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million victims, including some 675,000 Americans.

The 1918 flu was first observed in Europe, the United States and parts of Asia before quickly spreading around the world. At the time, there were no effective drugs or vaccines to treat the virus. Citizens were ordered to wear masks, schools, theaters and businesses were shuttered and bodies piled up in makeshift morgues before the virus ended its deadly global march.

On Tuesday, March 31, the province’s top health officials said B.C. will likely remain under strict pandemic-related restrictions until at least the summer as a vaccine is still up to 18 months away.

READ MORE: COVID-19: Non-profit 3D printing face shields for local hospital


Daniel Taylor
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
Email me at daniel.taylor@kelownacapnews.com
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