Our History

Mask mandate, virus fears, quarantine efforts ... and this was a century ago | Yesterday, Today

By Alan McRae
Updated November 19 2023 - 5:27pm, first published 5:00pm
Constable Joseph McKenna sports a mask in Bathurst at the time of the Spanish influenza crisis.
Constable Joseph McKenna sports a mask in Bathurst at the time of the Spanish influenza crisis.

OUR photo this week shows Constable Joseph McKenna wearing a surgical flu mask in February 1919 after the NSW Health Minister mandated the use of masks for police officers on duty. Bathurst's Dr Busby was the local government medical officer responsible for overseeing local regulations.

The pneumonic influenza epidemic, or the "Spanish influenza", as it was also known, started in 1918, the last year of the First World War, and passed through the soldiers in Western Europe in successively more virulent waves.

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