A letter to the editor today comes from a gentleman who has recently resigned from the Victoria Medical Society in defiance of what he believes to be a policy of “secrecy and exclusiveness” and an attempt to “shackle freedom of speech and action.” He shares the principles of treatment that he says are known by the society to give the best results, namely
“1) Open the excretions fully and freely. 2) Keep the patient in bed. 3) Keep the skin constantly moist with perspiration. 4) Give all the fluid nourishment the patient can digest. 5) Avoid alcoholics. 6) Avoid patent medicines for they are largely composed of alcohol”
The writer goes on to denounce the frequent use of alcohol for the treatment of Spanish influenza, stating that it is the most “appalling and dangerous, disasterous and calamitable” delusion that ever cursed a people or the medical profession.
Today, the Ministerial Association of Victoria addressed the faithful in a letter in the newspaper. It must be difficult for them to have to reach out to people in this impersonal way in such a trying time. The letter reminds us that although all churches remain closed, we can still find peace in prayer, no matter how bleak our situation. “By the bedside of the sick and dying, in the house of bereavement and woe, on the battlefield, on the doomed ship, in the simple piety of the family, in the aloneness of the private soul, prayer makes God real to us.” We should be able to return to churches on December 1st to observe a service of Thanksgiving for the end of the war.
The native people living on the Bering Peninsula have suffered a horrific loss of life. 175 out of 250 people thought to reside in this remote area have succumbed to influenza. An orphanage has been opened in Nome, Alaska to care for the 30 babies and children who have been left without families.
In Victoria, a two hour long hearing was held on the subject of the health regulations. The City Council and the Health Board heard from delegations of clergymen, dealers, billiard hall proprietors, and theater owners. These groups are very disgruntled by the loss of business that has occurred as a result of the shutting down of their venues. The churches, while not suffering financially, felt that their services should be allowed, to help people deal with their grief and sorrow. The delegations argued that they were being discriminated against, because crowded streetcars were still running and many stores remained open. Alder Peden explained the reasons for this by saying, “The workmen in our industrial plants must use the streetcars, and at the same period of the day. There is no way of preventing that. The influenza has attacked the workers at the Assembling Plant and at Yarrows severely, but it is an unpreventable condition. The stores must remain open, because we have got to eat. But we do not need to go to the theater and we do not absolutely have to go to church.”
It may not be much longer that the restrictions will remain in place. The increased number of cases that resulted from the peace celebrations have now passed. Dr. Price says that no further danger may be expected if people follow health orders. These might be lifted in 3-4 more weeks. This will be too late for the Thanksgiving holiday, on November 17th, much to the sadness of the clergy.
Business leaders will meet with the City Council to press for a relaxation of the closing orders, asking that strict quarantining of families affected by influenza be adopted instead. The Health Board is expected to oppose this, given that there are still many new cases each day.
The Western provinces have appealed to the federal government to postpone the proposed National Thanksgiving day. In light of the still-prevalent epidemic, they argue that “any form of public assembly at the present time would be fraught with grave danger.” In Victoria, the planned memorial service at Beacon Hill has also been postponed.
People in Vancouver aren’t seem more eager to get back to normal: it is reported that the gathering bans there are expected to be lifted by the end of the week. Plans are being made to resume the district soccer league as soon as possible.
The business community is tiring of the precautions taken to stop the flu. The Victoria Board of Trade, etc., are arguing that it is not necessary to completely ban public assemblies. They have developed a proposal and are presenting it to the Health Board. The alternative, they say, is to quarantine individual households when any member is sick. An editorial in today’s paper seems to support this opinion. It points to the experience of France and England, which have continued to allow public assemblies. But Dr. Price strongly disagrees. Victoria still holds the record for flu immunity, he says. “The steps we have taken have proven to be the best. To change our course now would be like swapping horses in midstream.”
The epidemic has reared its ugly head again again in Victoria, with more than one hundred cases yesterday. Dr. Price blames the recent crowding, suggesting that people are starting to treat his instructions as “idle words meant to be disobeyed.” While Vancouver and Seattle have both removed bans on public assembly, Dr. Price says this won’t be possible in Victoria until people do a better job protecting themselves.
The epidemic also continues to rage in many other areas of the province, and it is feared that the recent crowds during the peace celebrations “at practically every point of population throughout the Province” will exacerbate the situation futher.
“We want men to help now,” says Dr. Price, medical health officer. There are not enough nurses in the hospitals and the women who are working are “wearing out.” Men are urged to communicate with the health board as soon as possible to apply for positions. Making matters worse, Sister Mary Josephine, chief operating nurse of Saint Joseph’s hospital, has succumbed to the flu. She was just 28 years old. As well, famous trap shooter, Harry Cramer, aged 40, and baseball player, Charlie Swain, aged 33, have both passed away from pneumonia. It seems that cases have begun to rise again here, most likely due to the crowds on the streets during the last few days, celebrating the armistice.
Dr. Price has announced that there are “very good signs of abatement” with only eighteen new cases in Victoria yesterday. There is no word on when the ban on gatherings will be lifted, but Dr. Price says that schools, churches, and theatres will all open at the same time. There was also an indirect sign of an improvement of the situation in Vancouver, as sales of prescription liquor have fallen by half in the past week.
The Anglican biship has written in a formal protest on the ban on public worship, stating his belief that “the inherent right within the British Empire to worship almighty God corporately” is “one which no legislature can take away wholly even for a time.” He will be leading an outdoor service on Sunday morning and recommends that people dress warmly.
An editorial today urges action with regards to the recently alleged misadministration of the miltary hospitals across the country. There have been charges that the hospitals have been both careless in regards to the spread of the epidemic and financially wasteful, appointing far more staff than necessary, with an overabundance of high-ranking officers.
The paper today is in full praise of Dr. Price. Thanks to Dr. Price’s early efforts to combat the spread of the disease, Victoria was spared the worst effects of the pandemic. Compared to other similarly sized cities in Canada, Victoria is in the best shape.
One of the restrictions that has been the most difficult for people to observe has been the closing of churches. People are hopeful that Dr. Price will lift that restriction first. In North Vancouver, Saint Thomas’s church went ahead and held services on November 3. The church has been fined for it. Many people in Alberta are also being fined for not wearing flu masks.