HC Deb 04 August 1942 vol 382 cc867-8W
Mr. Groves

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that, in respect to the prevalence of smallpox in Glasgow recently, a delay of. 17 days was allowed to occur before Glasgow doctors were informed of the existence of dangerous and infective cases; and why, although local general practitioners advised the local authorities of the seriousness of the position, was no action taken?

Mr. Johnston

I am aware that on 14th June the medical officer of health of Glasgow sent a letter to medical practitioners informing them that six members of the crew of a ship which arrived in the Clyde on 29th May had since contracted smallpox, that contacts were under surveillance and that practitioners should inform him if any suspicious case came to their notice. I am also aware that all possible action to prevent the disease from spreading had been taken immediately the ship arrived, including the vaccination of the crew and passengers, and that up to the date of that letter on 14th June there were no cases in the city and therefore no need for a general vaccination campaign. The first case in the city itself appeared on 25th June and the decision to initiate a general vaccination campaign was reached on 28th June. All needful publicity measures were taken immediately thereafter and vaccination centres throughout the city were opened and commenced work on 1st July.

Mr. A. Edwards

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many smallpox cases have been diagnosed in Glasgow since the arrival of the ship from Bombay on 29th May; how many of these were amongst the crew and passengers; whether all the crew and passengers were revaccinated on 29th May and some of them again on nth June; whether the case of smallpox from the ship had been recognised as smallpox by the ship's doctor before the arrival of the ship; whether the port health authorities were notified before the ship docked; and whether the medical officer of health for Glasgow was notified immediately the smallpox case was discovered?

Mr. Johnston

The number of cases diagnosed as smallpox in Glasgow since the arrival of the ship on 29th May is 40. Of this number, nine, including the original case, were members of the crew and one was a passenger. All the crew and passengers were vaccinated oh 29th May. Information as to the revaccination of passengers after 29th May is not available but some members of the crew who remained in Glasgow were revaccinated on nth June. The original case was not recognised as smallpox until the patient was admitted to hospital in Glasgow, at which time the ship had not yet docked. The port health authority which is also the public health authority of Glasgow were aware of the diagnosis before the ship docked at Glasgow. The medical officer of health was advised immediately the case was recognised as smallpox.