How over 100,000 Ghanaians died of influenza in 1918/1919

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Between 1918 and 1919, the British government, then colonial masters of the Gold Coast (now Ghana) watched on with little concern as over 100,000 Ghanaians tragically lost their lives in an influenza epidemic.

The first case of the disease was recorded in August 1918 in the then commercial hub of Cape Coast.

An Accra-bound American vessel from Sierra Leone which had some of its crew members infected made a stop at Cape Coast and that’s where it began to spread.

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From there the disease swept across the country like the biblical plague and by mid-December there were casualties all over with the North territory being the latest hit.

The spread of the disease was facilitated by the colonial transportation network.

In less than six months, official government figures pegged the death rate at 50,000 with the Northern part of the country being the hardest hit.

The Northern territories recorded over 28,700 deaths while Accra was assigned 655 deaths.

However, the numbers by the government were rubbished by historians and data analysts who pegged the number of deaths around 100,000.

Kuczynski, a data analyst said the number by the colonial masters was a misrepresentation of the number of deaths that actually occurred.

Coronavirus 101 years on

After more than a century of that devastating episode, Ghanaians have another virus staring them in the face.

From a virus which reportedly originated in China, the deadly disease has reached a pandemic status with over 15,000 deaths globally.

For Ghana, since recording its first two cases, the number has grown exponentially. In less than two weeks, 27 cases and two deaths have been recorded.

 

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