Plague of London 1665 pamphlet looks familiar to today's Covid advice

Avoid crowded places, quarantine for people coming from abroad and regular deep cleans: Official 1665 Great Plague of London health pamphlet looks strikingly familiar to today’s Covid advice

  • The pamphlet outlines measures including quarantine and avoiding crowds
  • Its contents have eerie similarities to modern day life and coronavirus
  • It is being sold by London based Forum Auctions who expect it to fetch £800 

An official health advice pamphlet issued during the Great Plague of London has been unearthed – and it is strikingly similar to today’s government coronavirus restrictions.

The 10 page self-help document was produced by the Royal College of Physicians to combat the bubonic plague sweeping through the capital in 1665.

Entitled ‘Certain Necessary Directions for the Cure of the Plague’, it outlines a variety of ways to manage its deadly spread. 

An official health advice pamphlet issued during the Great Plague of London of 1665 has been unearthed – and it is strikingly similar to today’s government coronavirus guidance.

It has eerie echoes of the advice issued by Boris Johnson to curb the spread of coronavirus, including encouraging people to avoid crowded places and the need for quarantine

Bubonic plague is the most common form of plague and is spread by the bite of an infected flea. The infection spreads to immune glands called lymph nodes, causing them to become swollen and painful and may progress to open sores. Human-to-human transmission of bubonic plague is rare and it’s usually caught from animals.

If plague infects the lungs – either by the bubonic form progression through the body or by catching the infection from an infected patient or animal’s breath – it is called pneumonic plague.

 Source: World Health Organization 

 

People are told to avoid crowded places and not to swap clothes to ‘prevent propagating the infection from place to place’.

To stop disease being brought in from abroad, they suggest a strict 40 day quarantine where traders would have to stay on their ships.

One section reads: ‘Prohibiting persons and goods coming from foreign countries and places infected, to be landed for 40 days, is most rational, for preventing the bringing in of the contagion from such places.’

The pamphlet calls on people travelling across the country to carry a ‘certificate of health’ and for regular street cleans to take place.

It also offers a range of possible plague remedies targeted at the ‘richer sort’ involving perfumes and fig medicines. 

The pamphlet has echoes of the advice issued out by the current Government and Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus. 

The latest ‘rule of six’ is a measure designed to prevent people from gathering in crowds.

People travelling from certain countries are also required to quarantine when they arrive in the UK. 

If they fail to do so they could be fined up to £10,000. 

The pamphlet is being sold by a private collector with London based Forum Auctions where it is expected to fetch £800.

Max Hasler, specialist at Forum Auctions, said: ‘You could describe this as one of the earliest government health pamphlets.

‘The fascinating thing is that the instructions given in the pamphlet are eerily similar to today’s advice.

The 10 page self-help document was produced by the Royal College of Physicians to combat the bubonic plague sweeping through the capital 

Entitled ‘Certain Necessary Directions for the Cure of the Plague’, it outlines a variety of ways to manage its deadly spread. People are told to avoid crowded places and not to swap clothes to ‘prevent propagating the infection from place to place’

To stop disease being brought in from abroad, they suggest a strict 40 day quarantine where traders would have to stay on their ships

The pamphlet also offers a range of possible plague remedies targeted at the ‘richer sort’ involving perfumes and fig medicines

‘People were told not to go into closed spaces or swap clothes amongst other pieces of advice.

‘While they only had a rudimentary grasp of how plagues worked, they wanted to produce as much information as they could to help the public.

‘Free copies were handed out by local government officials to spread the message.’

The Great Plague, lasting from 1665 to 1666, was the last major epidemic of the bubonic plague to occur in England

The pamphlet is being sold with London based Forum Auctions who expect it to fetch £800

The Great Plague, lasting from 1665 to 1666, was the last major epidemic of the bubonic plague to occur in England.

It killed an estimated 100,000 people, almost a quarter of London’s population, in 18 months.

Currently, Brits returning from abroad are required to quarantine for 14 days to guard against spreading the coronavirus.

The sale takes place on Thursday.

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