Pandemics of the respiratory sort are not new, there were at least three in the twentieth century (1918, 1957, 1968). The good news is that they did not last very long (but I imagine – as now – that it seemed so at the time). Even the infamous 1918/19 epidemic passed into history after a year.
I was born in Glasgow and my paternal grandfather was a victim of that pandemic. Here is a nice article from the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh which you might care to read. https://www.rcpe.ac.uk/college/journal/exploring-scotlands-influenza-pandemic-1918-19-lest-we-forget
Compared with medical knowledge today, facilities were modest; in 1918/19 there was no NHS, and many doctors were on active service overseas. Yet the basics of good health were known: nutrition, fresh air, rest, good habits were and still are fundamentals. Fundamentals that get forgotten amongst our busy lives.
My maternal grandmother also caught the misnamed 1918 ‘Spanish flu’ but survived. Family history suggests she was well nursed at home. Fundamentals make a difference.
Dr Dorothy Shepherd 1885-1952 was in practice in London back then, and her little book on epidemics, which is still available, makes interesting reading. It is not a scientific text but contains some sound advice that is pertinent today:
‘It is the fashion to call every slight feverish chill influenza; but if after the temperature has come down, the depression, exhaustion and weariness is such that it is too much effort to do anything, that life is really not worth living, you know you will have had influenza; after a mere feverish chill you will feel as well on getting up as you did before the attack. Unfortunately many people take no notice of the danger signals of weakness and prostration, and insist on getting up, even returning to work before they are fit, thus laying themselves open to broncho-pneumonia…‘
‘During the feverish period the patient should be allowed nothing but raw fruit and fruit juices, and not synthetic bottled juices. Fresh oranges, lemon juice, apple drinks, grapefruit drinks at frequent intervals will cleans the system and prevent any undue strain being thrown on the gastric organs. No meat juices, no milk, are permissible. After the temperature is down, the diet may be increased and may include vegetable broth, Yeastrel drinks (Marmite?); wholemeal toast; gradually other foods may be added…’
Dr Shepherd was a medical doctor and homeopath, but foremost she recognised the importance of good self-nursing care.