London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Port of London 1912

Report for the year ended 31st December 1912 of the Medical Officer of Health for the Port of London

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The total number of vessels medically inspected during the year was 2,366—the
average number for the preceding two years was 2,640.1. It will thus be seen that the
number inspected is somewhat below the average, but it will be seen on reference to the
table that the number of vessels arriving from foreign ports, namely 9,107, was lower
than for many years past. Though the actual number of vessels is less, the average
tonnage per vessel increases.
The vessels from foreign ports which were medically inspected carried a total of
67,664 persons, of whom 13,924 were passengers.
The total number of vessels entering the River Medway was 266 ; of these
237 were medically inspected by your Medical Officer stationed at Sheerness. These
vessels carried 3,387 persons, of whom 55 were passengers.
A case of some interest was that of the s.s. "Clan Stuart," of Glasgow, 113,911,
which arrived in the port from the East Indies on the 19th June, and anchored off
Southend on account of the strike. It would appear that H.M. Customs expected the
arrival of the vessel off Southend, and were informed that no one would land from the
vessel before the visit of a Customs Officer. On the evening of the vessel's arrival,
however, a Customs Officer met two persons on the pier at Southend and ascertained
that they had landed from the vessel, which had not then been admitted to " pratique."
This was not done until the following morning—the 20th.
It is of importance in the interests of the Public Health that persons should not
land from vessels arriving, especially from "infected " or "suspected" ports, before such
vessels have received a visit from the Customs Officer or Medical Officer of the Port,
except, naturally, in a case of grave emergency.
The Regulations of the Local Government Board, however, do not make this an
offence, except, in a case where the ship has actually had a case of plague, cholera or
yellow fever on board during the voyage, and I am of opinion that the Regulations might
with advantage be so amended as to render it an offence for persons to leave any vessel
arriving from foreign ports before the visit of an Officer of the Customs or the Medical
Officer of the Port, except in the case of some grave emergency involving the safety of
life or property and the like.
The facts were placed before Mr. Solicitor for such faction as he might deem
desirable, but in his opinion no legal action could be taken.
From the total number of vessels medically inspected, 80 cases were removed to
Denton Hospital for treatment. Details of these are given under the headings relating
to Infectious Disease and in the sections referring to the Hospital.
It is satisfactory to record that there was not during the year any epidemic within
the Port of any dangerous infectious disorder.

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