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Hong Kong flu pandemic – 1968

Life is starting, at least, to get more or less back to normal here in Italy. Monday showed the start of Phase 2, for the ending of ‘Lockdown’. But still on Sunday evening the Carabinieri, the Italian militarised police force, were out in numbers stopping, questioning and fining those intrepid enough to venture out before the midnight commencement.
It’s hard to know how things are going to roll out, as people start to try and pick up the pieces of their lives. One thing is for sure, Italy has for yet another time succumbed to a savage beating; what businesses haven’t just gone forever are being snapped up by Mafia, or the void filled by big multi-nationals. Italians are a broken people, frightened of going out, with nowhere to go.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, Sweden took a completely different approach to other European countries, choosing to not lock-down, but rely on voluntary social distancing. The result was, perhaps unexpected, perhaps not, that it made little difference. The ‘R’ software used to estimate Coronavirus results show Sweden to be about on a par to other neighbouring countries, and certainly does not echo the predicted catastrophes.
Pandemics are nothing new, there have always been, and presumably will always be. In 1968, so within my living memory a flu pandemic. I was very young and so I don’t remember, but interestingly very few other people remember either, even those old enough to do so. The 1968 flu, or Hong Kong flu, killed one million people worldwide and about 100,000 in the US. The striking difference between that and our COVID-19 is that countries did not choose to deliberately destroy their economies in an effort to save lives. Can we draw any conclusions? We shall see.

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