HC Deb 22 July 1957 vol 574 cc22-3
44. Mr. Snow

asked the Minister of Health if he will make a statement regarding the new oriental influenza epidemic; and what precautionary action his Department is taking.

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

There have been no developments since my answers to Questions on this subject on 1st July, except that laboratory confirmation has now been obtained that persons suffering from the Asian type of influenza have arrived in this country. There is, however, at present no sign of any material spread of the infection here so far.

Mr. Snow

Bearing in mind that resistance to this type of infection tends to decrease from the end of September onwards, may I ask if the hon. Gentleman has examined the records of his Department as to the state of public morale in 1917 at the time of the last major influenza epidemic and whether any lesson can be learned from those records? Will he also consider issuing some sort of statement to the public in due course in order to allay anxiety?

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

I hope my Answer will be noted and allay any anxiety that might arise. All the evidence so far is that this epidemic is and will be of a mild nature in this country. In view of what the hon. Member said about the 1917 epidemic, I should say that I do not think the two are comparable. One has also to bear in mind that there is far more international knowledge and co-operation on these things now than there was then.

If this is a convenient moment for me to give advice to the House as to what hon. Members should do if they are unfortunate enough to get this influenza, the best clinical advice I have had so far is to go to bed.