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

View report page

Lambeth 1918

Report on the vital and sanitary statistics of the Borough of Lambeth during the year 1918

This page requires JavaScript

Individuals have difficulties of preventive treatment in their
homes, and Public Authorities have difficulties of administration,
in dealing with an Influenza Epidemic, on account of the very short
incubation period of the disease (48 hours) and the rapidity with
which the disease spreads from person to person (through the
secretions of the respiratory surfaces during the process of coughing,
sneezing and even loud talking). The ordinary means of prevention
do not apply in the sense that they apply to a disease like smallpox,
or scarlet fever or diphtheria, viz.—(a) notification,) isolation
in a hospital, (c) disinfection and (d) medical inspection of contacts.
It must rather be left to the individual to apply such measures to
himself or herself, and his, or her, immediate surroundings—what
may be termed personal or individual preventive measures, leaving
to the Public Authorities, the educational side and the preventing
of overcrowding in public places, vehicles, schools, etc., as well
as in private premises used as common lodging houses and dormitories,
etc., and the arranging for the proper ventilation, at stated
intervals, of all such public, or quasi-public, places. The Local
Government Board introduced Orders, with a view to such ventilation
being effected, known as the Public Health (Influenza)
Regulations, 1918, and the Public Health (Influenza) Regulations
(No. 2), 1918, under which it is provided that, where the public
are admitted to a place of public entertainment (as defined in the
Regulations), the entertainment shall not be carried on for more
than 3 hours consecutively, except in the case of cinematograph
exhibitions, where the period may be extended to 4 hours; and
that there shall be an interval of not less than 30 minutes between
any two entertainments given at a place of public entertainment
(as defined in the Regulations) to which the Public are admitted,
such interval to be for the purpose of the premises being effectually
and thoroughly ventilated.* Power is given to a Public Authority
to relax, on the written advice of the Medical Officer of Health,
the Regulations in regard to the aforesaid provisions.) Further,
the Regulations also provide (an important provision that, in the
case of cinematograph exhibitions, children from a district wherein
a public elementary school has been temporarily closed on account