Comparing coronavirus ‘hysteria’ to Asian flu outbreak of the 1950s

Letter from: Eric Waters, Ingleside Crescent, Lancing

The empty toilet roll aisle in Sainsbury's in Horsham
The empty toilet roll aisle in Sainsbury's in Horsham

In 1958, I was the only boy soldier in my barrack room who was not carted off to a temporary military hospital after being struck down with Asian flu.

My mates were just a small part of the nine million people in this country who caught that strain of flu over the winter of 1957/58 and, thankfully, none of them were included in the 14,000 who died after becoming affected, or part of the global death rate which was estimated as having been at least 1.1million.

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However, despite all of that, I do not recall any of the mass hysteria that we are hearing and reading about when it comes to the corona virus, or the panic buying that is being reported in the media, which apparently includes the bulk purchasing of toilet rolls.

Toilet rolls? Really? That is something that is over-the-top and completely unnecessary when a solution is so readily at hand, one which was common practice when I was growing up in Hastings in the 1940 and 50s – torn-up newspapers!

It certainly looks to me as though we were far better at ‘keeping calm and carrying on’ in those days than we ever are today.